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VOLUME  78  2006 


©The  Yorkshire  Archaeological  Society  and  Contributors,  2006 

Cover  design  by  Tony  Berry 












ISSN  0084-4276 




Claremont,  23  Clarendon  Road, 

Founded  LEEDS,  LS29NZ  Incorporated 

1863  Telephone  (0113)  245  7910  1893 


Sir  Marcus  Worsley,  Bt. 

The  Right  Revd  and  Right  Honourable  Dr  David  Hope 

Lord  Crathorn,  Lord  Lieut,  of  N.  Yorkshire 

Dr  Ingrid  Mary  Roscoe,  FSA,  Lord  Lieut,  of  W.  Yorkshire 

Officers  and  Council  2004-2005 

R.  A.  Hall 

Honorary  Vice-Presidents 

G.C.F.  Forster  R.M.  Butler 

J.  Taylor  L. A. S.  Butler 


R.  Morris  P.B.  Davidson 

J.  le  Patourel 

P.  V.  Addyman 
S.  Thomas 

Management  Board 

Bray  ford,  P. 
Cruse,  R.  J. 
Edwards,  M. 
Davidson,  P.  B. 
Forster,  G C.  F. 
Litton,  P. 

Mawtus,  M. 
Moorhouse,  S. 
Scholey,  M. 
Thomas,  S. 
White,  R.F. 
Wilson,  P.  R. 


Beaumont,  H.  ( Skipton ) 
Brayford,  P.  ( Beverley ) 

Cruse,  R.J.  ( Menston ) 
Edwards,  M.  ( Hebden  Bridge ) 
Flear,  D.M.  (York) 

Habberjam,  M.  (Leeds) 
Hemingway,  M.F.  (Leeds) 
Kershaw,  M.J.  (Harrogate) 
King,  A.  (Settle) 

Manby,  T.G  (York) 

Mawtus,  M.  (Tunbridge  Wells) 

Moorhouse,  S.  (Batley) 
Morton,  M.  (Leeds) 

Payne,  D.  (Leeds) 

Potten,  S.  (Droitwich  Spa) 
Roberts,  D.  (Harrogate) 
Roberts,  I.D.  (Leeds) 
Scholey,  M.  (Leeds) 
Slatcher,  W.N.  (Rochdale) 
Thornes,  J.  (Wakefield) 
White,  R.F.  ( Northallerton ) 

All  of  the  following  are  members  of  Council  ex  officio,  postal  address  ‘Claremont’ 

Hon.  Secretary:  MJ.  Heron 

Hon.  Treasurer:  J.M.  Lucas 

Hon.  Lectures  Secretary:  Vacancy 

Hon.  Membership  Secretary:  J.  Senior 

Hon  Editors  (Journal):  E.  Royle  and  J.  Wilson 

Hon  Series  Editor:  RR.  Wilson 

Hon.  Grants  Officer:  I.D.  Roberts 

Senior  Librarian  and  Archivist:  R.L.  Frost 

Hon.  Secretaries  or  Representatives  of  Sections 
postal  address  ‘Claremont’ 

Record  Series:  C.C.  Webb 
Parish  Register  Section:  P.M.  Litton 
Wakefield  Court  Rolls  Section:  K.  Emsley 
Prehistory  Research  Section:  R.J.  Cruse 
Roman  Antiquities  Section:  PR.  Wilson 
Medieval  Section:  M.  Edwards 
Local  History  Study  Section:  E.  Pickles 
Industrial  History  Section: 

Family  History  & Population  Studies  Section:  J.  Butler 

Representative  of  Groups  and  Affiliated  Societies 

Doncaster  Group:  A Steers 
East  LeedsHistorical  Society:  D.  Owens 
East  Riding  Arch.  Research  Trust:T.  G Manby 
East  Riding  Archaeological  Society:  K.  Dennett 
Forest  of  Galtres  Society:  R.  Prestwich 
Great  Ayton  Community  Archaeology  Project: 

HarrogateArchaeological  Society:  A.  Kirk 

Huddersfield  & District  Archaeological  Society:  E.A.  Vickerman 

IngleboroughArchaeology  Group:  A.  Batty 

Northallerton  & District  Local  History  Society: 

Olicana  Historical  Society:  M.H.  Long 

Pontefract  & District  Archaeological  Society:  E.  Houlder 

Saddleworth  Historical  Society: 

Scarborough  Archaeological  & Historical  Society: 

Sedbergh  & District  Historical  Society: 

Skipton  & Craven  Historical  Society:  D.  C.  Grant 
Upper  Wharf edale  Field  Society:  H.  Beaumont 
Wakefield  Historical  Society: 

Yorkshire  Architectural  & York  Archaeological  Society:  R.M.  Butler 
Yorkshire  Vernacular  Buildings  Study  Group:  J.  Quarmby 




1995  1 

M.  R.  Stephens 



Pete  Wilson 


David  Bourne 


AND  WAKEFIELD  1991-2000  85 

Lawrence  Butler 


Archaeological  Investigations  at  Wakefield  Cathedral  1974  - 1995 

By  A.C.  Swann  and  I.  Roberts  with  a contribution  by  D.  Tweddle 



Rita  Wood 



Claire  Cross 


YORK  CASTLE  GAOL,  1705  - 1745  15  9 

Philip  Woodfine 

OF  ELITE  WOMEN  IN  YORKSHIRE,  1720-1860  177 

Ruth  M.  Larsen 


Peter  Holmes 

POPULAR  POLITICS  IN  YORK,  c.1865-1880 217 

Matthew  Roberts 


Lawrence  Butler 




David  Bourne  is  a retired  land  agent  and  surveyor  with  an  interest  in  historical  matters, 
who  for  over  twenty  years  has  lived  in  Flaxton.  He  contributed  an  earlier  article  on  the 

village  to  YAJ74  (2002). 

Lawrence  Butler  was  senior  lecturer  in  medieval  archaeology  at  Leeds  and  York 
universities.  He  has  written  extensively  on  medieval  churches,  abbeys,  castles  and 
memor  ials  in  England  and  Wales,  he  now  pursues  an  active  retirement  near  Cambridge. 

Claire  Cross  taught  history  at  the  University  of  York  from  1965  until  2000.  Her  books  and 
articles  on  late-medieval  and  early-modern  English  history  include  an  edition  with  N.  Vickers 
of  Monks,  Friars  and  Nuns  in  Sixteenth  Century  Yorkshire,  Yorkshire  Archaeological  Society 
Record  Series  CC  (1995). 

Peter  Holmes  teaches  at  Hills  Road  Sixth  Form  College,  Cambridge.  He  is  a graduate  in 
Modern  History  from  the  University  of  Oxford,  a keen  supporter  of  the  Family  History 
Section  of  the  YAS,  and  has  contributed  three  previous  articles  on  Yorkshire  history  to  the 

Ruth  M.  Larsen  is  a lecturer  in  History  at  the  University  of  Derby,  and  recently  completed 
a PhD  at  the  University  of  York  in  which  she  explored  the  lives  of  aristocratic  women  in  the 
Yorkshire  country  house,  1685- 1858.  Dr  Larsen  was  part  of  the  team  that  organised  a series 
of  exhibitions  across  seven  country  houses  in  Yorkshire  in  2004  and  she  was  editor  of  and 
contributor  to  Maids  and  Mistresses:  Celebrating  300 years  of  Women  in  the  Yorkshire 
Country  House  (York,  Yorkshire  Country  House  Partnership,  2004).  She  has  also  worked 
with  Professor  Edward  Royle  on  a scholarly  edition  of  the  Clergy  Visitation  Returns  of 
Archbishop  Thomson’s  primary  visitation  of  the  diocese  of  York  in  1865,  to  be  published 
by  the  Borthwick  Institute,  University  of  York. 

Ian  Roberts  is  Principal  Archaeologist  with  Archaeological  Services  WYAS.  Ian  is  a Fel- 
low of  the  Society  of  Antiquaries. 

Matthew  Roberts  is  a research  fellow  in  history  at  Sheffield  Hallam  University.  He  works 
in  the  field  of  nineteenth  and  twentieth  century  British  political  and  cultural  history,  and  has 
particular  interests  in  popular  politics,  urban  history  and  gender  history.  His  PhD  thesis 
examined  popular  Conservatism  in  late-Victorian  Leeds.  He  has  published  on  popular 
Conservatism  in  Historical  Research  and  has  a forthcoming  article  in  the  Historical Journal. 
He  is  currently  writing  a book  called  Politics,  Protest  and  the  People  in  Urban  Britain,  1832- 
1914 , for  Palgrave. 

Mark  Stephens  is  a Director  of  MAP  Archaeological  Consultancy  Ltd  based  in  Malton. 
He  has  worked  in  field  archaeology  since  graduating  in  1979  on  all  periods  of  sites,  although 
he  is  especially  interested  in  the  medieval  period  and  its  pottery. 

Andy  Swann  is  Design  and  Illustration  Manager  with  Archaeological  Services  WYAS 

Pete  Wilson  undertook  his  PhD  research  on  Roman  and  Native  in  Yorkshire  and  is  Head 
of  Research  Policy  (Roman  Archaeology)  for  English  Heritage. 

Rita  Wood  is  continuing  her  research  in  English  Romanesque  sculpture.  A field-worker 
for  the  Corpus  of  Romanesque  Sculpture  in  Britain  and  Ireland , she  is  now  working  in  the 
East  Riding. 

Philip  Woodfine  is  a Reader  in  History  at  the  University  of  Huddersfield.  His  research 
interests  lie  in  eighteenth  century  society  and  politics,  and  in  naval  history.  He  has  written 
numerous  articles  on  these  subjects,  for  one  of  which  he  was  awarded  in  1998  the  Julian 
Corbett  Prize  in  Modern  Naval  History.  He  edited,  with  Professor  Jeremy  Black,  The  British 
Navy  and  the  Use  of  Naval  Power  in  the  Eighteenth  Century  (Leicester  University  Press, 
1988),  and  wrote  Britannia’s  Glories:  The  Walpole  Ministry  and  the  1739  War  with  Spain 
(Royal  Historical  Society,  1998). 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 



By  M.  R.  Stephens 

with  contributions  by  J.  Carrott,  H.  Cool,  J.  Evans,  A.  Finney,  S.  Garside-Neville, 

P.  Makey,  T.  G.  Manby  and  P.  Ware 

Archaeological  investigations  in  advance  of  an  extension  of Burythorpe  Churchyard  and 
associated  tree-planting  revealed  features  demonstrating  occupation  from  the  late  Iron  Age, 
or  early  Roman  period  to  the  fourth  century  AD.  The  later  Roman  occupation  incorporated 
structures  with  stone  slab  floors  and,  in  a subsequent  phase  with  stone-built  walls.  It  is 
suggested  that  in  the  latest  phase  the  site  might  represent  a possible  villa.  The  finds  assemblage 
incorporates  later  Neolithic  and  Bronze  Age  lithics,  late  Iron  Age  and  Roman  ceramics,  as 
well  as  Roman-period  slag,  tile  and  a possible  tesserae. 


Archaeological  excavations  were  undertaken  by  MAP  Archaeological  Consultancy  Ltd  in 
1995  on  agricultural  land  to  the  east  and  south-east  of  All  Saints  Church,  Burythorpe,  North 
Yorkshire  (SE  7895  6501  - Fig.  1),  in  advance  of  an  extension  to  the  church  graveyard  and 

All  Saints  Church  is  situated  approximately  300  m to  the  west  of  the  present  village  and 
within  an  area  formerly  known  as  The  Park,  which  was  associated  with  Burythorpe  House. 
The  church  stands  in  isolation  in  an  elevated  position  (at  around  85  m A.O.D.),  some  14  m 
higher  than  the  village.  The  present  church  was  built  in  1858,  but  a print  shows  its  forerunner 
to  be  a simple  structure  with  fourteenth-century  details  to  the  windows  and  substantial 
buttresses  on  the  western  gable  end. 

Attention  was  drawn  to  the  site  by  Burythorpe  residents  Messrs.  Smithson  and  Francis, 
who  were  concerned  that  possible  archaeological  remains  could  be  destroyed  by  the  extension 
to  the  graveyard  and  the  proposed  tree  planting.  The  graveyard  extension  was  given  planning 
permission  without  any  archaeological  constraint  due  to  there  being  insufficient  information 
within  the  North  Yorkshire  Sites  and  Monument  Record  concerning  archaeological  remains 
in  the  vicinity  of  Burythorpe  church  to  justify  the  imposition  of  any  controls. 

A rapid  surface  appraisal  of  the  site  located  a sufficient  quantity  of  Romano-British  pottery 
and  struck  flint  to  lead  to  an  evaluation  being  carried  out  privately  by  MAP,  with  the  support 
of  Schenactady-Europe,  who  supplied  the  plant.  Three  trenches  were  excavated,  which 
clearly  showed  the  presence  of  cut  features  of  Iron  Age  and  Romano-British  date.  On  the 
strength  of  this  evidence  English  Heritage  were  approached  for  funding  for  an  open-area 
excavation,  and  a grant  was  provided  for  that  purpose. 

The  site  itself  stands  on  soils  of  the  Rivington  1 Association  with  an  underlying  geology  of 
Carboniferous  and  Jurassic  sandstone  (Mackney  et  al  1983). 




The  village  of  Burythorpe  is  recorded  in  Domesday  as  Berguetorp  or  Bergetor.  The  most 
likely  meaning  of  the  name  is  ’hill  village’  (Smith  1937).  In  1086  the  Domesday  survey 
recorded  that  two  carucates  of  land  were  owned  by  the  King,  three  carucates  by  Berenger  de 









2.  Interventions  in  the  Burythorp 



Tosny  and  another  three  by  Robert  de  Brus.  Between  1180  and  1190  the  church  at 
Burythorpe,  along  with  one  bovate  of  land  and  all  rights  of  patronage  was  gifted  by  Geoffrey 
Nobil  of  Burythorpe  to  Kirkham  Abbey  In  1246  the  first  rector  of  Burythorpe  church  is 
recorded  as  Robert  de  Kirkham. 

There  is  a reference  in  the  history  of  the  life  of  William  Peckitt,  a glass  painter,  to  a severe 
fire  at  Burythorpe  c.  1630,  which  has  led  to  the  suggestion  that  the  village  was  subsequently 
re-located  away  from  the  church  to  its  present  position. 

Current  records  show  no  crop  or  soil  marks  within  the  immediate  area  of  the  site.  The 
nearest  concentration  is  c.  500m  to  the  north-west,  with  the  villa  complex  (SAM  NY1094  - 
Fig.  2)  to  the  south  of  Kennythorpe  sandworks  and  the  settlement  further  to  the  west  (Finney 

Fieldwalking  over  the  villa  complex  in  1990/1  produced  pottery  of  prehistoric  to  post- 
medieval  date  (MAP  1991  a).  The  earliest  material  was  from  the  Late  Bronze/Early  Iron  Age, 
with  a sizeable  assemblage  of  flint  tools  and  debitage.  Roman  pottery  ranged  in  date  from  the 
late  first  century  to  the  fourth  centuiy  AD;  apart  from  seven  samian  and  twenty-one  Black 
Burnished  sherds  it  was  of  local  manufacture,  and  mainly  of  Norton  and  Crambeck  Wares. 

In  1990  excavations  on  land  to  the  west  of  Kennythorpe  sandworks  (SE  78220  6565-  Site 
AI  - Fig.  3)  located  and  sampled  a complete  enclosure,  plus  parts  of  three  others,  a number  of 
boundary  ditches  and  three  pit  complexes  (MAP  1990).  Excavation  indicated  that  this 
particular  site  at  the  foot  of  the  Wolds  was  intensively  occupied  during  the  mid-late  Bronze 
Age,  with  the  largest  domestic  assemblage  of  Beaker  pottery  to  come  from  a domestic  context 
in  Eastern  Yorkshire  showing  occupation  in  the  early  Bronze  Age.  A geophysical  survey 
(Payne  1991)  revealed  further  enclosures  and  trackways  between  the  sand  quarry  and  the 
villa  complex. 

In  1994  further  sample  excavation  was  undertaken  at  the  sand  quarry  (Fig.  2),  revealing 
pits  which  yielded  charcoal,  carbonised  grain,  burnt  bone  and  a Late  Bronze  Age  pottery 
assemblage  in  three  different  fabric  types  (Manby  1994). 

These  sites  indicate  that  a rich  archaeological  landscape  exists  in  the  vicinity  of  Burythorpe 
church,  with  sites  dating  from  the  prehistoric  into  the  Roman  period.  This  potential  led  to 
the  appraisal  and  evaluation  excavation  of  the  church  site  in  February  1995  (Fig.  4). 

In  evaluation  Trench  1 intercutting  features  were  revealed,  the  latest  of  which  (context  7) 
was  c.  0.5  m square  and  lined  with  vertical  stones.  Within  the  fill  (context  3)  was  a complete 
pottery  vessel  (context  4),  which  along  with  other  sherds  indicated  a Romano-British  date. 
The  greater  part  of  Trench  2 was  taken  up  by  a large  feature  aligned  east  to  west  (context  17), 
which  contained  calcite-gritted  sherds.  Within  Trench  3 were  two  linear  features  (contexts 
12  and  14)  on  a rough  north  to  south  alignment,  the  westernmost  of  which  (context  12)  was 
c.  3.5  m wide,  suggesting  that  it  was  either  a broad  ditch  or  a trackway.  Context  14  was  c.  2m 
wide  ditch.  The  eastern  part  of  the  trench  also  had  the  indications  of  a ditch  (context  15). 


The  evaluation  of  the  site  had  thus  located  features  of  the  Romano-British  period,  with  a 
suggestion  of  earlier  activity.  The  threat  to  the  archaeological  remains  could  only  be  resolved 
by  rapid  ‘rescue’  excavation  as  planning  permission  had  already  been  granted  for  the 



3.  Overall  site  pla 



. 4.  Plans  of  the  trial  trenches. 



extension  to  the  graveyard.  The  excavation  was  seen  as  an  opportunity  to  define  the  nature 
of  activity  at  the  site  and  to  record  the  processes  of  change  from  the  Iron  Age  to  the  Roman 
period.  With  these  objectives  in  mind  excavation  commenced  in  April  1995. 


Topsoil  was  removed  by  a 360°  excavator  using  a broad  toothless  blade  under  close 
archaeological  supervision.  Excavation  was  thereafter  by  hand.  The  deposits  were  recorded 
by  individual  context,  and  a full  series  of  drawn  plans  and  sections  was  compiled  along  with 
a photographic  record  in  monochrome  and  colour. 


The  site  was  covered  by  a deposit  of  modern  ploughsoil,  which  contained  a flint  side 
scraper  (SF  1)  and  a ceramic  spindle-whorl  (SF  2). 

The  removal  of  the  modern  ploughsoil  revealed  a number  of  features  of  varying  form  and 
date.  In  the  west  of  the  site  a number  of  slab  surfaces  with  associated  features  were  identified. 
A large  negative  feature,  probably  a quarry  (context  144),  was  present  at  the  north-west  of 
the  site,  with  further  negative  features  to  the  south-west. 

Ditch  105 

Ditch  105  was  the  earliest  of  the  excavated  features,  running  across  the  central  area  of  the 
site,  with  another  ditch  (context  12  from  the  evaluation)  running  southwards  from  it  at 
right-angles  (Fig.  6).  A segment  excavated  to  examine  the  junction  of  the  two  ditches  showed 
them  to  be  contemporary,  and  to  have  contiguous  fills.  The  basal  fill  was  a thick  deposit  of 
sandy  silt  (context  134),  with  subsequent,  more  stony  fills  (contexts  126  and  1 17  - the  latter 
containing  a flint  scraper)  having  apparently  entered  the  ditch  from  the  eastern  side;  these 
may  represent  bank  material.  Context  116  filled  the  top  of  the  ditch  on  its  western  and 
northern  sides. 

Pottery  recovered  from  the  fills  consisted  of  calcite-gritted  ware,  and  Norton  and  Crambeck 
greywares,  suggesting  the  ditches  had  a late  Iron  Age  to  third-century  AD  date. 

A possible  recut  (context  1 10  - Fig.  6)  cut  into  context  1 16,  entering  from  the  south  before 
turning  at  right-angles  and  running  eastwards  along  the  top  of  Ditch  105. 

Structures  1-4 

Phasing  of  these  structures  is  hampered  by  the  lack  of  stratigraphy  between  the  separate 
structural  elements;  this  was  a particular  difficulty  when  considering  the  relationship  between 
the  two  slab  surfaces  (contexts  188  and  155),  which  formed  Structures  1 and  2 (designated 
Phase  2).  These  surfaces  have  been  included  under  the  same  activity  phase  due  to  their 
similarity  of  form.  Surface  188  was  the  earliest  structure  excavated  at  the  site  as  it  was  cut 
through  by  a later  linear  feature  (context  186),  which  itself  was  overlain  by  the  wall  of  a later 
building  (Structure  3 - context  189). 

A cleaning  spit  (context  106)  excavated  over  this  part  of  the  site  contained  a seventh-  or 
eighth-century  copper-alloy  pin  with  a zoomorphic  head  (SF  23  - Fig.  16.2),  and  a flint  knife 
fragment,  along  with  samian,  and  Norton  and  Crambeck  greyware  sherds. 



5a:  Phase  1 

5b:  Phase  2 

Fig.  5.  Phase  plans 



Fig.  6.  Plan  and  sections  of  ditch  105. 



Fig.  7.  Plan  of  Structures  1 and  2. 



Structure  1 

Structure  1 consisted  of  irregular,  flat,  fine-grained  limestone  slabs,  which  were  keyed 
together  to  form  a roughly  flat  and  continuous  surface  (context  188  - Fig.  7)  measuring  3.5 
m north  to  south  and  7 m east  to  west.  The  slabs  were  generally  around  0.5  m in  size,  though 
the  largest  was  0.96  m,  and  the  smallest  0.16  m in  length. 

Structure  2 

Structure  2 was  represented  by  another  slab  surface  (context  155  - Fig.  7),  and  was  situated 

6 m to  the  south  of  Structure  1.  It  measured  at  least  4.4  m north  to  south  and  2.2  m east  to 
west.  The  western  edge  of  the  slabs  was  parallel  to  wall  176/156,  and  it  was  bounded  by  a 
linear  cut  (context  162  - Figs.  7 and  8).  Excavation  of  this  showed  it  to  have  vertical  edges 
with  a fill  of  stony,  silty  sand  (context  154).  This  feature  was  probably  a robbing  trench  - the 
irregular,  undulating  base  and  edges  were  suggestive  of  a feature  from  which  stone  had  been 
dug  out,  and  the  fill  did  not  include  any  stone  of  useable  size.  It  would  therefore  seem  that 
the  slab  surface  would  represent  the  internal  floor  of  a building  whose  walls  had  been 
robbed.  The  date  for  this  ‘robber  trench’  was  probably  third  century,  indicated  by  the 
presence  of  Norton  greyware  sherds.  There  was  also  a Dressel  20  amphora  sherd  complete 
with  graffito  (Fig.16.7). 

A number  of  deposits  (contexts  167,  182,  170  and  199)  and  a posthole  (context  181  - Figs. 

7 and  8)  were  identified  at  the  same  horizon  as  the  two  slab  surfaces.  Contexts  167  and  182 
were  2-3m  south  of  Structure  1 and  were  silty  sands  with  associated  fourth-century  Crambeck 
greyware  sherds.  Context  199,  located  immediately  west  of  Structure  1 was  a silty  sand  with 
patches  of  clay  and  ash.  These  deposits  had  the  appearance  of ‘occupation’  material,  though 
it  is  unclear  to  what  extent  they  were  directly  associated  with  Structures  1 and  2.  Context 
170  (Fig.  7),  a hard-packed  surface  of  limestone  and  sandstone  pebbles  situated  between  the 
two  structures  was  interpreted  as  an  exterior  yard  surface. 

The  posthole  (context  181  Figs.  7 and  8)  was  oval  in  plan  and  cut  into  182,  and  was  clearly 
earlier  than  a north  to  south  wall  (context  156).  There  were  two  depressions  in  the  base, 
divided  by  a thin  neck,  suggesting  that  this  feature  had  been  ‘double’.  The  silty  sand  fill 
(context  169)  contained  a number  of  calcite-gritted  sherds  of  indeterminate  date. 


Surface  188  was  cut  through  at  its  south-east  corner  by  a slightly  sinuous  linear  feature  aligned 
south-west  to  north-east  (context  186  - Figs.  7 and  8).  The  fill  (context  150),  a sandy  silt,  contained 
many  fragments  of  jumbled  angular  limestone,  along  with  amphora,  Norton  greyware  and  calcite- 
gritted  sherds,  and  a headless  bone  pin  or  spoon  handle  (SF  42).  The  feature  continued  beneath 
the  later  wall  (context  156),  where  the  fill  was  recorded  as  context  168.  Context  171,  a rubbly 
deposit  west  of  wall  156,  would  appear  to  have  been  a continuation  of  150. 

Cut  186  was  interpreted  as  a robber  trench  because  of  its  vertical  edges  and  flat  base  - a 
ditch  would  have  been  of  different  profile.  The  fill  suggested  jumbled  debris  from  wall- 
robbing rather  than  the  slower,  more  even  in-filling  associated  with  a ditch.  The  putative 
wall  did  not  appear  to  be  directly  associated  with  slab  surface  155  as  the  two  features  were 
on  different  alignments.  The  implication  is  that  there  was  a separate  constructional  phase 



N 8008m 




t r 

Fig.  8.  a-c)  Plan  and  sections  of  robber  trench  162;  d)  Sections  of  wall  156  and  post-hole  181; 
e & f)  Sections  of  robber  trench  186 



between  the  use  of  the  slab  surfaces  and  the  later  stone-walled  building  (Structure  3). 

Structure  3 

Structure  3 consisted  of  walls  156,  176  and  189  (Fig.  9).  Wall  156,  aligned  approximately 
north  to  south,  consisted  of  a single  course,  one  block  wide,  of  roughly  hewn  distinctive 
greyish  green  limestone,  with  the  squared  face  to  the  east.  There  was  no  sign  of  a construction 
trench  for  the  wall.  To  the  north,  plough  damage  obscured  wall  156's  relationship  to  slab 
surface  188,  but  a line  of  displaced  blocks  within  the  plough-disturbed  material  (context 
102)  make  it  almost  certain  that  156  continued  northwards  over  the  slabs  to  return  at  90°  as 
wall  189.  Wall  189  was  of  similar  build,  and  continued  c.  5 m westwards  to  the  limit  of  the 
excavation,  where  there  were  indications  that  it  had  begun  to  return  southwards. 

The  line  of  wall  156  was  continued  to  the  south  by  wall  176.  At  0.75  m,  this  wall  was  wider 
than  156  and  consisted  of  two  rough  faces  of  oolitic  limestone  with  an  angular  limestone 
core,  clearly  making  the  two  walls  of  different  construction.  A 0.5  m wide  gap  existed 
between  156  and  176,  terminating  in  a squared  face  c.  0.45  m south  of  the  end  of  wall  156. 
This  could  represent  a narrow  entrance,  and  the  sub-rectangular  rebate  to  the  most  southerly 
stone  of  wall  156  could  possibly  be  the  position  of  a door-post. 

Only  a relatively  small  area  of  the  interior  of  the  building  was  examined.  A single  floor 
surface,  represented  by  a 0.03  m deep  deposit  of  fine  sandy  mortar  (context  157  - Fig.  9),  was 
identified;  this  did  not  butt  up  to  the  western  face  of  wall  156,  but  left  a 0.4  m wide  gap.  This 
gap  between  the  mortar  and  the  wall  did  not  represent  a foundation  or  robber  trench,  as  the 
deposit  below  (context  165,  a rubbly,  silty  sand)  extended  underneath  the  floor  up  to  the  wall 
face.  Context  165  can  be  seen  as  a bedding-layer  for  floor  157. 

Two  postholes  (contexts  193  and  195  - Fig.  9)  have  been  assigned  to  the  same  period  as 
Structure  3.  Posthole  193,  situated  in  the  north-west  corner  of  the  building,  was  roughly 
circular  and  had  an  oolitic  limestone  packing  in  a matrix  of  silty  sand  (context  193).  Posthole 
195  was  oval  in  plan  and  cut  through  surface  188,  with  a U-shaped  profile  and  a sandy  loam 
fill  (context  194). 

A whole  series  of  deposits  dating  later  than  the  use  of  Structure  3 were  identified:  contexts 
153,  174,  175,  177,  190  and  191  were  located  within  the  building,  and  context  166  outside. 
All  of  these  deposits  are  likely  to  relate  to  either  the  demolition  or  collapse  of  the  structure. 
Associated  pottery  -calcite-gritted,  Crambeck  and  Norton  greywares  - ranged  in  date  from 
the  second  to  fourth  centuries. 

Overlying  the  entire  area  of  Structures  1,  2 and  3 was  a mixed  rubbly  sandy  silt  (context 
102),  which  represented  plough  disturbance  of  the  underlying  archaeological  deposits.  Finds 
from  this  horizon  included  a second-century  iron  spearhead  (SF  5 - Fig.  16.1),  a rim/body 
fragment  of  a late  Roman  glass  bowl  (SF  38),  a flint  flake  (SF  1 ) and  a worked  bone  object  (SF 

Structure  4 

Structure  4 (Fig.  10),  located  c.  8 m to  the  north  of  Structure  3,  had  been  badly  plough- 
truncated,  but  traces  of  mortar  flooring  (context  111)  and  wall  foundations  (context  143) 



Fig.  9.  Plan  of  Structure  3 



Fig.  10.  a)  Plan  of  Structure  4 (with  burial  197);  b & c)  Profiles  of  wall  148; 
d & e)  Section  and  plan  of  pit  147. 



The  foundations  existed  in  a small  area  at  the  north-west  end  of  the  mortar  flooring.  The 
exact  dimensions  of  the  building  represented  are  uncertain  due  to  the  fragmentary  nature  of 
the  remains,  but  to  judge  by  the  remnants  of  flooring  and  foundations,  it  was  at  least  3 m 
wide  and  9 m in  length,  aligned  north-west  to  south-east. 

The  foundations  consisted  of  a single  course  of  angular  oolitic  limestone  blocks  (context 
143),  carefully  laid  and  keyed  together,  placed  in  a shallow  vertically-edged  foundation  trench 
(context  145).  A thin  deposit  of  clean,  compact  clay  (context  142)  had  been  laid  directly  on 
top  of  the  rubble  foundation,  presumably  to  provide  a flat  surface  for  the  setting  of  dressed 
stone  walling  or  a sill  beam. 

The  mortar  flooring  (context  111  - Fig.  10),  a 0.02  m thick  deposit  of  gritty  mortar  which 
contained  tegula  and  Roman  brick  fragments,  lapped  over  context  142,  and  continued 
south-east  from  Foundation  143  as  a linear  band  6 m long  and  1.8  m wide;  this  apparently 
represents  the  surviving  remains  of  a formerly  much  more  extensive  surface  which  was 
preserved  where  it  had  sagged  in  to  the  top  of  Ditch  105.  Traces  of  foundation  material  were 
also  recorded  on  the  northern  edge  of  this  mortar  floor. 

An  infant  grave  (context  197  - Fig.  10)  cut  into  the  mortar  surface  to  the  south  of  foundation 
143.  The  skeleton  was  a neonatal  baby,  laid  on  its  back,  with  the  head  end  to  the  south-east. 
Only  some  vertebrae  and  ribs  remained  in  situ,  the  skull,  arms,  legs,  feet  and  hands  were 
absent,  apparently  having  been  removed  by  the  plough. 

Pit  147 

A small,  rectangular,  vertically-side  feature  with  a stone  lining,  Pit  147  (Fig.  10)  was  located 
at  the  south-eastern  end  of  mortar  surface  111.  The  southern  and  eastern  sides  of  the  pit 
were  walled  with  flat  mortared  limestones,  which  survived  to  a maximum  of  five  courses  in 
height.  The  lowest  fill  of  the  pit  was  a yellowish  brown  sandy  silt  (context  146),  and  neither 
this,  the  upper  fill  (context  140)  nor  the  sides  of  the  pit  showed  any  signs  of  having  been 
subjected  to  heat.  The  lack  of  in  situ  burning  discounts  the  possibility  that  the  pit  was  a kiln 
or  ‘corn-drier’.  Along  with  the  mortar  surface  it  was  probably  related  in  some  way  to  the 
largely  destroyed  building,  Structure  4,  to  the  north-west. 

Oven  141 

A large  shallow,  irregularly-sided  pit  (context  125  - Fig.  11)  measuring  10  m x 4m  x 0.4m 
was  located  at  the  north-eastern  part  of  the  site.  Located  within  this  feature,  context  141 
consisted  of  two  roughly-tooled,  fire-blackened  limestone  blocks  measuring  0.55  m x 0.2m 
x 0.2m  in  size  and  laid  end  to  end.  Two  slabs  of  limestone  were  set  on  end  at  right-angles  to 
each  other  slightly  to  the  north.  Identical  pieces  and  fragments  of  worked  limestone,  along 
with  box-flue  tile  and  //72Z?/*exrfragments,  occurred  within  context  127,  the  fill  of  the  greater 
part  of  the  pit.  This  structure  represented  the  demolished  remains  of  an  oven  or  kiln. 

A deposit  of  silty  sand  with  significant  amounts  of  charcoal  and  ash  (context  133)  lapped 
up  to  both  sides  of  the  oven.  Further  deposits  (contexts  124,  133  and  149)  were  overlain  by 
context  127,  which  contained  animal  bone  and  large  quantities  of  pottery  including  Norton 
greyware  and  a Crambeck  painted  platter,  giving  a later  fourth-century  date. 

A slab  surface  (context  132)  overlay  the  northern  margin  of  context  124,  and  occupied  the 
area  above  the  demolished  oven.  The  surface  consisted  of  five  large  slabs  (average  size 
0.70m  x 0.60m  x 0.10m)  plus  a number  of  smaller  slabs,  together  forming  an  uneven  surface. 



Fig.  11.  Plans  and  sections  of  pits  125  and  108. 



It  is  uncertain  whether  this  was  part  of  a structure  similar  to  Structures  1 and  2,  or  if  these 
slabs  were  intended  to  cover  over  the  pit. 

Pit  108 

Pit  108  measured  5m  x 3m  in  size,  and  was  situated  c.  2m  south  of  Oven  141.  The  pit  cut 
into  the  natural  degraded  sandstone  bedrock  to  a depth  of  0.30m.  The  fill  (context  107) 
contained  animal  bone,  two  flint  flakes,  Roman  brick  fragments  and  later  fourth-century 
calcite-gritted  sherds.  The  function  of  the  pit  is  uncertain;  an  initial  impression  that  it  was 
a Grubenhausyjas  not  confirmed  by  the  presence  of  postholes  at  the  centre  of  its  shortest 
sides,  or  of  stakeholes  along  the  edges,  elements  that  are  usually  associated  with  such  features. 
The  pit  may  therefore  have  been  a ‘working  hollow’. 

An  oval  posthole  (context  131  - Fig.  1 1 ) was  situated  on  the  northern  edge  of  the  pit.  The 
distinct  clay  fill  (context  130)  contained  a number  of  Dressel  20  amphora  and  calcite-gritted 
sherds,  along  with  a flint  flake  and  a core. 

Gully  119 

This  was  a short  gully  situated  to  the  west  of  oven  141,  running  for  a length  of  5 m on  an 
east-south-east  to  west-north-west  alignment  (Fig.  12).  It  was  filled  by  stony,  silty  sands 
(contexts  122  and  124),  the  former  containing  a cylindrical  whetstone  (SF  52  - Fig.  17.5), 
Crambeck  greyware  sherds  and  the  rim  of  a blue/ green  glass  bottle  of  first-  to  third-century 
date  (SF  51  - Fig.  16.  6). 

Quarry  144 

Excavation  located  this  substantial  feature  at  the  north-west  of  the  site  (Fig.  12),  but  it  was 
only  possible  to  examine  a small  area,  showing  it  to  be  at  least  1 m deep  and  over  25  m x 7.5 
m in  size.  The  lobed  and  serrated  appearance  of  the  feature’s  edges  suggested  a face  that  had 
been  quarried  rather  than  a naturally  weathered  surface.  Excavation  indicated  that  after  the 
quarry  was  initially  abandoned,  it  silted  up  naturally,  indicated  by  contexts  128,  136,  137 
and  139.  Associated  greyware  and  calcite-gritted  pottery  gave  a third/fourth-century  date 
for  the  silting  process.  Context  128  also  contained  a fragment  of  Roman  brick,  and  139  a 
crested  flint  flake. 

Subsequently,  part  of  the  northern  lobe  of  the  quarry  had  a closely-packed  limestone 
gravel  surface  (context  135  - Fig.  12)  laid  within  it,  the  rounded  appearance  of  the  stones 
suggesting  considerable  wear  and  use.  The  gravel  surface  was  sealed  by  deposits  129  and 
103  which  contained  samian,  calcite-gritted  ware,  Norton  and  Crambeck  greywares  and 
Crambeck  painted  mortaria  giving  a fourth-century  date;  context  103  also  contained  a 
possible  tessera  fragment  along  with  Roman  brick  and  a tegula,  and  a mid  fourth-century 
coin  of  Constantius  II  (SF  20).  A deposit  of  colluvium  (context  101)  overlay  103,  which 
contained  a plain  copper  alloy  ring  (SF  18  - Fig.  16.3),  and  a pewter  ‘spectacle’-shaped  shoe 
buckle  of  fifteenth-  to  sixteenth-century  date  (SF  27  - Fig.  16.4).  Modern  topsoil  (100) 
overlay  the  colluvial  deposit,  and  contained  a spindle  whorl  fashioned  from  a greyware 
sherd  (SF  1 - Fig.  16.8). 

Features  164 > 179  and  187 

These  three  intercutting  features  were  revealed  in  a 2 m square  box  (Figs.  3 and  13) 
excavated  in  the  area  adjacent  to  Evaluation  Trenches  1 and  2. 



12.  a)  Plan  of  gully  119,  stone  surface  135  and  quarry  144;  b & c)  Sections  of  gully  119. 



The  earliest  feature  was  context  187,  but  as  only  the  northern  edge  was  present  in  the 
excavated  trench  its  form  remains  unsure.  The  fill  of  187  (context  180)  was  cut  away  by  cut 
179  to  the  north-west.  This  feature  had  three  fills  (contexts  172,  173  and  178);  Crambeck 
greyware  sherds  from  context  173  provided  a fourth-century  date. 

Context  164  was  a linear  feature  with  a north-west  to  south-east  alignment  that  cut  into  the 
south-eastern  part  of  187.  Vertically-edged  the  feature  had  two  0.20  m deep  depressions  in 
the  base,  c.  0.8  m apart.  The  fill  (context  163)  around  these  depressions  contained  a number 
of  vertical  slabs,  probably  the  remains  of  post-packing.  Interpretation  is  hampered  by  the 
small-scale  of  the  excavation  here,  but  given  the  apparent  presence  of  posts  within  it,  it  is 
likely  that  this  feature  was  a fence  or  palisade,  dateable  to  the  later  fourth  century  by  associated 
Crambeck  greyware  and  parchment  ware  sherds. 

The  upper  fills  of  these  features  were  covered  by  a 0.2  m deep  deposit  of  dark  silty  sand  (context 
152),  which  contained  a Roman  slide  lock  bolt  (SF  40),  and  a flint  bladelet  and  a flint  scraper. 

Ditch  113 

The  latest  feature  encountered  on  the  site  was  a west  to  east  ditch  (cut  1 13  - Figs.  6 and  13) 
excavated  in  two  1 m wide  segments  (contexts  115  and  159/185). 

Cut  115  was  excavated  near  the  southern  baulk  of  the  excavation,  south  of  the  junction  in 
Ditch  105.  The  fill  (context  114)  was  a silty  material  containing  a number  of  samian  sherds, 
and  a flint  scraper. 

The  southernmost  segment  of  Ditch  113  was  located  immediately  to  the  north  of  slab 
surface  188,  and  was  more  complex  in  that  a recut  was  present.  The  earliest  ditch  (context 
185  - Fig.  13)  had  an  irregular  V-shaped  profile,  whose  silty  basal  fill  (context  184)  was 
overlain  by  a mottled  clay  (context  151),  which  lapped  over  Surface  188  to  the  south.  The 
mottled  clay  deposit  was  cut  away  by  a ditch  (context  159  - Fig.  13)  on  the  same  alignment  as 
185,  whose  fills  (contexts  183  and  158)  contained  indeterminate  calcite-gritted  sherds. 

The  upper  fill  of  Ditch  113  (excavated  as  contexts  1 14  and  158)  was  a distinct  dark  sandy 
silt,  the  humic  texture  of  which  suggested  that  it  was  a relatively  recent  feature,  perhaps  a 
medieval  or  post-medieval  field  ditch. 


The  interpretation  of  the  site  is  hampered  by  two  factors.  Firstly,  it  is  apparent  that  much 
of  the  site  has  been  damaged  by  the  plough,  a long-term  process  judging  by  the  presence  of 
the  probable  medieval  field  ditch  (context  113).  Secondly,  it  is  clear  that  the  excavated  area 
is  only  part  of  a greater  whole:  features  extend  eastwards  out  of  the  site,  and  Structure  3 
continues  into  the  present  graveyard  to  the  west.  The  presence  of  structures  within  the 
present  graveyard  is  confirmed  by  the  fact  that  slab  surfaces  similar  to  Structures  1 and  2 
have  been  observed  during  grave  digging. 

The  earliest  activity  at  the  site  is  represented  by  the  flint  assemblage,  which  is  consistent 
with  regional  assemblages  of  the  later  Neolithic  and  Bronze  Age,  with  at  least  two  pieces  (a 
scraper  and  a double-edged  knife)  having  Beaker  associations. 

The  site  was  first  occupied  in  the  late  Iron  Age,  when  a large  ditch  was  dug  (context  105) 
(Phase  1).  It  is  unclear  whether  the  ditch  was  simply  a field  boundary,  or  if  it  had  a more 
protective  or  defensive  function. 



Fig.  13.  a-c)  Plan  and  sections  of  gully  164,  pit  179  and  feature  179; 
d & e)  Section  and  plan  of  ditch  133,  segments  159  and  185. 



Later,  two  structures  with  slab  floors  were  built  (Phase  2),  with  a subsequent  constructional 
phase  involving  buildings  with  stone  walls  (Phase  4).  The  most  substantial,  or  at  least  best 
preserved,  of  these  buildings  was  constructed  of  imported  limestone  and  measured  in  excess 
of  12  m in  length  and  6 m in  width.  This  building  had  several  phases  of  construction  and 
overlay  one  of  the  earlier  slab  floors.  The  other  building  had  the  same  alignment  and  was 
associated  with  a mortar  floor,  which  overlay  the  early  ditch. 

To  the  north  of  the  buildings  lay  an  oven,  and  a number  of  pits  and  gullies.  A large  hollow 
at  the  north-west  of  the  site  is  regarded  as  a quarry  of  Roman  date. 

The  earliest  pottery  from  the  assemblage  consisted  of  hard-fired  sherds  of  simple  jar  forms 
characteristic  of  the  late  first  millennium  BC,  whose  tradition  carried  on  into  the  Romano- 
British  calcite  tempered  fabrics.  Later  pottery  from  the  site  was  predominantly  from  the 
nearby  production  centres  of  Crambeck  and  Norton,  and  was  of  third-  to  fourth-century  date. 
Ceramic  building  materials  including  brick,  roofing  tile,  box-flue  tile  and  a possible  tessera 
suggest  a building  of  some  pretension  in  the  locality  of  the  site,  further  hints  of  higher  status 
occupation  are  provided  by  the  presence  of  samian  and  amphorae  within  the  pottery  assemblage. 

Other  dating  evidence  was  provided  by  eight  coins  recovered  by  metal-detecting,  only  one 
of  which  was  recovered  from  a recognised  feature  (SF  20  dated  to  AD  355-60  from  the  area 
of  the  quariy).  They  were  predominantly  of  fourth-century  AD  date,  with  only  a single  worn 
third-century  example  (SF  11,  c.  AD  268-73).  The  coins  were  thus  contemporary  with  the 
Phase  4 stone  buildings 

It  is  apparent  that  a range  of  craft  and  industrial  activities  were  undertaken  at  the  site. 
The  presence  of  a spindle  whorl  indicates  that  spinning  was  carried  out.  The  hearth  or 
oven,  along  with  quantities  of  slag  found  adjacent  to  it,  shows  that  metal-working,  or  ore- 
roasting,  was  a local  activity.  The  position  of  the  oven,  down  from  the  prevailing  wind  and 
away  from  the  buildings,  shows  that  consideration  was  given  to  distancing  living  areas  from 
any  unpleasant  fumes  or  dangerous  sparks  from  it.  If  the  large  feature  at  the  north-west  of 
the  site  was  indeed  a quarry,  it  must  have  been  a significant  element  of  the  early  phases  of  the 
site.  All  of  these  activities  suggest  a degree  of  economic  self-sufficiency,  though  perhaps  not 
enough  to  prove  that  the  site  was  independent  of  a larger  estate,  and  was  perhaps  linked  to 
the  Burythorpe  sandworks  villa. 

Interpretation  of  the  environmental  evidence  for  the  site  was  hindered  by  the  small  size 
and  fragmentary  nature  of  the  animal  bone  assemblage.  However,  the  animal  bone  shows  a 
general  lack  of  wild  species,  with  the  domestic  types  showing  a preponderance  of  sheep/goat 
over  cattle  and  pig.  Horse  and  dog  were  also  recorded.  Environmental  sampling  was  largely 
unproductive,  with  only  a very  few  identifiable  charred  seeds  being  present. 

Despite  the  inherent  problems  with  essentially  key-hole  archaeology,  this  excavation 
provided  information  on  a hitherto  unknown  site  of  late  prehistoric  and  Roman  date.  The 
excavations  achieved  their  main  objective  of  defining  a substantial  ditch,  which  appeared  to 
enclose  a land  unit  on  which  the  present  All  Saints  Church  stands.  In  addition,  there  was 
conclusive  evidence  of  stone-built  structures  in  use  in  the  fourth  century  AD,  which,  based 
on  associated  artefacts,  were  of  fairly  high  status.  How  this  settlement  relates  to  the  more 
general  picture  of  settlement  and  land  use  in  broader  geographical  terms  is  considered  in  the 
Discussion  below. 




ByT.  G.  Manby 


An  assemblage  of  248  sherds,  generally  unweathered  and  showing  sharp  fractures  to 
sherds  was  examined.  Only  one  complete  profile  of  a small  globular  jar  was  present  from 
context  126.  The  majority  of  the  excavated  pieces  come  from  large  jars,  predominantly  of  a 
weak  barrel-shaped  profile  with  thick  developed  rim  form  with  a rim  diameter  of  between 
22-35  cm.  Medium  jars,  with  a rim  diameter  of  between  15-20  cm,  are  the  second  most 
numerous  form.  Small  jars  were  the  least  numerous;  although  the  fine  ware  sherds  did  come 
from  vessels  of  a small  size,  but  their  shapes  are  unknown. 

The  largest  group  from  context  191  had  a proportion  of  medium  ware  with  a hard,  smooth 
compact  exterior  for  both  large  and  medium  jar  forms.  There  is  also  a very  small  quantity  of 
hard  dark  grey  fine  ware  wall  fragments,  some  with  exterior  burnish,  but  otherwise  without 

Decoration  was  confined  to  the  incised  diagonal  strokes  on  the  lip  of  a small  jar  form 
contexts  117  and  126. 


The  assemblage  was  characterised  by  hard  fabrics,  which  showed  a laminated  structure  in 
wall  section  with  hard-fired  surfaces  generally  dark  grey  with  lighter  tones;  a minority  sow 
reduced  orange  exteriors  or  interiors.  All  had  dark  grey  cores.  Tempering  showed  a pro- 
fuse use  of  crushed  angular  calcite  >7  mm  long,  often  protruding  through  the  surfaces, 
where  its  crystalline  character  has  broken  down  from  the  high  firing  temperature.  Surface 
pitting  left  by  the  solution  of  calcite  occurred  but  not  as  a common  feature.  A varying 
admixture  of  fine  sand  also  occurred,  sometimes  in  the  form  of  quartz  crystals. 


1.  The  ditch  (context  105)  provided  a stratigraphic  sequence: 

Primary  fill  (context  134):  only  a very  small  group  with  one  jar  rim  of  very  distinctive  type. 
Secondary  fill  (context  126):  small  group  with  decorated  jar. 

Upper  fill  (context  117). 

Top  fill  (contexts  104  and  109). 

2.  Links  provided  between  contexts  were: 

(a)  contexts  104  and  128  by  pieces  of  the  same  distinctive  rim  type. 

(b)  contexts  117  and  126  have  the  same  decorated  jar. 






















Weight  gm. 









Large  jars 








Medium  jars 






Small  jars 





No.  vessels 









In  fabric  and  form  many  of  the  Buiythorpe  vessel  forms  and  rim  types  have  good  parallels 
amongst  the  handmade  wares  of  the  ‘early  fortlet’  at  the  Langton  villa  site  (Corder  and  Kirk 
1932,  30-33)  and  the  ‘lake  dwelling’  at  Costa  Beck  (Hull  1930;  Hayes  1988,  30-32).  The 
assemblage  belongs  to  a tradition  of  hard-fired  pottery  of  simple  basic  jar  forms  that  in 
eastern  Yorkshire  can  be  assigned  to  the  later  centuries  of  the  first  millennium  BC,  and 
continues  to  include  Romano-British  Knapton  and  Huntcliff  calcite-tempered  fabrics.  Many 
of  these  late  Iron  Age  assemblages  across  eastern  and  central  Yorkshire  have  recently  been 
summarised  by  Evans  (1995).  Artefactual  associations  that  would  provide  reliable  dating 
horizons  for  these  assemblages  are  singularly  scarce  and  the  application  of  scientific 
determinations  to  their  dating  is  needed.  This  would  be  especially  significant  for  the 
Burythorpe  church  site  where  there  is  a stratigraphic  separation  between  context  groups 

CATALOGUE  (Figs.  14  and  15) 

104.1  Large  jar,  incurving  with  out-turned  rim,  folded  down  inside  lip.  Calcite  and  fine  sand 
tempering.  Brown  surfaces  with  darker  toning;  dark  grey  core.  Slip  flaking  off  inside.  27  cm 
rim  diam.,  wall  thickness  1.3  cm. 

104.2  Rim  with  deep  internal  bevel.  Dark  grey  interior,  orange  exterior.  Dark  grey  core. 
Calcite  tempering  <0.6  cm.  Similar  to  context  126.2.  23  cm  rim  diam. 

104.3.  Rim  of  large  jar.  Hard  dark  grey  surfaces.  Calcite  tempering  <0.7  cm  (Evans  Wl). 

104.4.  Rim  of  large  jar.  Hard  dark  grey  surfaces.  Medium  fabric;  sparse  calcite  and  sand. 

104.5.  Thick  rim  of  a large  jar.  External  bevelled  lip.  Brown  surfaces.  (Evans  Mill). 

104.6.  Thick  rim  of  large  jar.  Calcite  <0.3  cm.  (Evans  Mill). 

104.7.  Medium  jar  rim.  External  bevel.  Pitted,  softer  fabric.  Calcite  temper  <0.3  cm.  Wall 
thickness  1 cm. 

104.8.  Thick  rim  of  large  jar.  Dark  grey.  Wall  thickness  1.8  cm. 

104.9.  Rim  sherd  of  small  jar.  Dark  grey.  Wall  thickness  0.5  cm. 

109.1.  Large  jar.  Thick,  incurved  profile;  recessed  bevel,  folded  down  inside. 

109.2.  Large  jar.  Externally  bevelled  rim;  internal  groove. 

109.3.  Large  jar.  Externally  bevelled  rim  with  overhanging  lip.  Dark  grey  fabric. 



Fig.  14.  Iron  Age  Pottery. 



Fig.  15.  Roman  pottery. 



109.4.  Simple  upright  rim  with  flattened  lip.  Brown  exterior,  dark  grey  interior.  Calcite 
tempered;  pitted.  (Evans  LI). 

116.1.  Large  jar.  Out-turned  rim  with  thick  lip  and  crude  internal  bevel.  Dark  grey,  brown- 
toned  exterior;  orange  interior.  Wall  thickness  1.5  cm. 

117.2.  Large  jar.  External  bevel.  Hard  dark  grey  laminated  fabric. 

117.3.  Small  rim  with  everted  rounded  lip.  Dark  grey.  Calcite  tempering  <0.2  cm. 

126.1.  Small  jar.  Complete  profile  and  2 base  fragments.  8.5-9  cm  high.  1 1 cm  diam.  Rim;  9 
cm  base.  Dark  grey  with  brown  toning  on  lip.  Faint  diagonal  strokes  on  lip. 

126.2.  Large  jar  with  deep  bevelled  rim.  Dark  grey  exterior,  orange  interior.  Dark  grey 
core.  Similar  rim  in  identical  fabric  (109.2). 

126.3.  Large  jar,  Thick  exterior  bevel.  Dark  grey  exterior,  light  grey  interior. 

134.2.  Damaged  small  sherd  of  an  upright  rim.  Calcite  tempering. 

191.1  Large  jar  rim.  Broad  externally  bevelled  lip,  2 facets  on  the  interior.  Brown  toned 
exterior,  dark  grey  interior  and  core.  Very  hard  medium  fabric  with  calcite  grit  <0.4  cm. 
Wall  thickness  0.8-1  cm.  (Evans  El). 

191.2  Large  jar  rim.  Broad  expanded  rim.  Medium,  very  hard  laminated  fabric.  Dark  grey 
exterior,  orange  interior.  Wall  thickness  1.1  cm. 

191.3  Two  joining  sherds  of  a large  jar  with  external  bevelled  lip.  Dark  grey  hard  laminated 
fabric.  Calcite  grit  <0.4  cm.  (Evans  El). 

191.4  Large  jar  rim.  Dark  grey  laminated  fabric.  Calcite  grit  <0.4  cm.  Wall  thickness  1.3  cm. 

191.5  Rim  of  large  jar.  Hard  dark  grey  fabric.  Calcite  <0.2  cm.  (Evans  El). 

191.6  Rim  of  large  jar.  Wall  thickness  1 cm.  (Evans  El). 

191.7  Rim  of  large  jar.  Wall  thickness  1 cm. 

191.8  Rim  of  large  jar.  Wall  thickness  1 cm. 

191.9  Small  jar  with  everted  lip.  Hard  dark  grey  fabric;  calcite  <0.6  cm.  Carbon  layer  on 

191.10  Medium  jar  with  everted  lip.  Hard  dark  grey  medium  fabric.  Wall  thickness  1-1.1  cm. 
(Evans  J 11). 

191.11  Small  jar  with  simple  lip.  Carbon  layer  inside  lip.  Medium  sand  tempered  fabric. 
Wall  thickness  0.6  cm.  (Evans  HI). 

191.12  Small  sherd  of  a large  jar  rim.  Medium  fabric  with  brown  exterior  and  dark  grey 




ByV.  A.  Ware 

The  excavation  at  Burythorpe  church  has  given  a valuable  opportunity  to  examine  the 
Roman  pottery  from  a rural  site,  an  area  grossly  under-represented  in  Roman  pottery  studies. 


It  may  be  reasonable  to  suggest  that  occupation  continued  to  the  fifth  century  AD,  but 
dated  contexts  predominantly  belong  to  the  late  fourth  century  AD.  The  coin  collection 
also  suggests  a late  fourth-century  AD  date,  therefore  backing  the  pottery  evidence. 

The  report  on  the  Iron  Age  potteiy  (see  above)  appears  to  indicate  pre-Roman  occupation 
of  site:  the  problem  arises  whether  the  site  evolved  gradually  and  became  Romanised  or  if 
there  was  a break  in  occupation.  There  is  little  in  the  pottery  to  confirm  this,  or  whether  at 
some  point  in  the  second  century  AD  the  site  was  abandoned  and  then  re-established  in  the 
late  third/fourth  centuiy  AD.  No  definite  conclusions  can  as  yet  be  drawn  from  the  Romano- 
British  pottery  and  neither  option  can  be  dismissed. 

The  bulk  of  the  potteiy  comes  from  the  two  nearby  kiln  production  centres  of  Norton  and 
Crambeck.  Context  175  has  a Malton  reeded  rim  bowl  (Fig.  15.175)  of  Flavian/Trajanic  date 
and  obviously  associated  with  military  production.  The  role  of  the  military  market  and  how 
it  affected  pottery  production  is  evident  from  the  Burythorpe  pottery.  The  rapid  development 
of  military  influence  on  pottery  supply  in  the  region  is  suggested  by  the  appearance  of  this 
type  of  material  on  what  appears  to  be  a non-military  site. 

Context  137  has  an  example  of  Malton  mortaria.  Thirty  per  cent  of  the  greyware  forms 
are  from  the  Norton-based  potteries.  The  majority  of  the  other  pottery  is  from  the  Crambeck 
kilns  located  only  5 km  away.  Context  154  contains  several  forms  in  redware.  Parchment 
ware  is  found  in  several  contexts  including  context  138  with  a star  decoration  in  the  base 
(form  E012,  Fig.  15.138)  and  assigned  to  the  late  fourth  century  AD,  and  another  painted 
platter  from  context  127  (Fig.  15.127.2).  A Crambeck  greyware  bowl  with  incised  wavy  line 
decoration  on  the  inside  was  found  in  context  127  (Fig.15. 127.1). 

Several  unusual  forms  are  represented;  in  particular  from  context  127,  a complete  profile 
of  a cup  (Fig.  15.127.3)  is  especially  important,  as  is  the  colour-coated  Crambeck  sherd  from 
context  106).  The  Burythorpe  collection  conforms  with  Evans’  statement  that  ‘on  no  site 
examined  by  the  author  has  the  quantity  of  Crambeck  finewares  exceeded  that  of  the  greyware’ 
(Evans  1989). 

The  appearance  of  the  Dressel  20  amphorae  on  the  site,  in  contexts  154  and  167,  tends  to 
suggest  that  the  site  had  some  higher  status  occupation  as  such  pottery  is  not  often  found  on 
rural  sites  (Evans  pers.  comm.).  An  example  of  Dressel  20  from  context  154  had  an  exterior 
incised  graffito  (Fig.  16.7). 

Samian  consisted  of  plain  and  decorated  forms.  No  East  Gaulish  samian  was  present  and 
only  one  sherd  with  a stamp  (SF  3:  Fig.  16.9)  could  be  assigned  to  a specific  workshop 
(Oswald  231),  suggesting  a lack  in  the  supply  of  samian  to  the  site  in  the  second  and  third 



■ — ■— 



0 1cm 

1  » 

« 1 * — 

0 5cm 

» j 

Fig.  16.  Small  finds 




The  area  of  the  Burythorpe  church  site  excavated  in  1995  showed  that  the  first  occupation 
phase,  represented  by  Ditch  105,  was  dateable  to  the  late  Iron  Age  or  early  Roman  period. 
The  relatively  large  amounts  of  occupation  debris  in  the  ditch  fills  suggested  that  settlement 
of  the  same  date  lay  close  by.  It  is  therefore  possible  to  draw  a parallel  between  the  site  and 
villa  sites  such  as  Rudston  (Stead  1980),  Langton  (Corder  and  Kirk  1932)  and  Beadlam  (Neal 
1996)  where  settlement  of  Iron  Age/‘native  Roman’  type  was  superseded  by  the  construction 
of  Roman  buildings,  presumably  as  the  descendants  of  the  Iron  Age  inhabitants  became 
more  Romanised  and  able  to  afford  a more  comfortable  life-style. 

The  Burythorpe  church  site  lies  close  to  a complex  of  prehistoric  enclosures,  situated  to 
the  west  of  Burythorpe  sandworks,  c.  900  m to  the  north-west  (Fig.  2).  Sample  excavations 
at  this  site  have  been  mentioned  above.  How  the  church  site  relates  to  this  settlement  is  as 
yet  unclear.  There  is  a chronological  gap  between  the  two  sites  as  no  mid-late  Iron  Age 
material  was  found  at  the  quarry,  whereas  it  was  present  at  the  church.  The  presence  of  a 
separate  complex  of  rectilinear  cropmarks  situated  c.  700  m north-west  of  the  church  and  to 
the  east  of  the  quarry  site  may  provide  the  link.  This  series  of  cropmarks  are  believed  to 
represent  a villa  (SAM  NY  1094).  Fieldwalking  of  the  site  in  1990/ 1 (MAP  1991  a)  indicated 
occupation  from  the  late  first  to  the  fourth  century  AD.  As  mentioned  above,  Beadlam  and 
Rudston  villas  showed  early  Iron  Age  settlement  on  the  villa  sites,  and  it  is  reasonable  to 
suppose  that  Iron  Age  occupation  preceded  the  Roman  at  the  quarry  site,  just  as  it  did  at 
Burythorpe  church.  In  either  case,  there  would  seem  to  have  been  an  eastward  shift  in 
settlement  during  the  Iron  Age,  perhaps  in  favour  of  the  higher  ground  and  defensible 
position  of  the  church  site. 

How  the  sandworks  ‘villa’  site  and  the  church  site  relate  to  each  other  is  as  yet  unclear. 
The  ‘villa’  would  have  been  clearly  visible  from  the  church  site  and  one  assumes  that  there 
must  have  been  some  interaction.  Both  sites  appear  on  available  evidence  to  have  been 
occupied  in  the  fourth  century,  and  judging  by  quantities  of  building  stone  recovered  during 
fieldwalking  at  the  sandworks  ‘villa’,  both  had  stone  buildings. 

There  is  a tradition  of  structures  in  east  and  north-east  Yorkshire,  some  way  below  villas 
in  status,  that  employed  slab  floors  in  their  construction.  A number  of  such  structures  have 
been  identified  in  Norton;  a fourth-century  example  at  Eastfields  had  an  associated  limestone 
wall  (Hayes  1988).  Excavation  within  the  vicus  at  Malton  located  fragmentary  slab  floors 
within  a building  of  third/fourth-century  date  (MAP  1991b).  An  amorphous  area  of  slab 
paving  associated  with  a timber  slot  rather  than  stone  walls,  and  of  second-  to  fourth-century 
date  was  found  at  Pale  End,  Kildale  (Hayes  1966),  and  another  paved  structure  of  this  type 
was  excavated  at  Elmswell  (Corder  1940).  This  tradition  would  not  appear  to  merely  reflect 
the  availability  of  local  building  stone  as  the  sites  lay  on  widely  different  geologies,  with  shale 
and  mudstone  at  Pale  End,  glaciofluvial  drift  at  Norton,  limestone  at  Malton  and  chalk  at 

The  early  slab  surfaces  (Structures  1 and  2)  at  Burythorpe  church  would  apparently  belong 
to  the  slab  floor  tradition.  What  dating  evidence  there  is  suggests  that  Structures  1 and  2 
were  demolished  in  the  third  century,  to  enable  the  building  of  Structure  3.  Structure  3,  and 
the  similarly  aligned  Structure  4,  clearly  marked  a change  and  improvement  in  construction 
methods,  but  does  this  mean  that  the  Burythorpe  church  site  should  be  included  in  the 





group  of  high  status  sites  within  the  orbit  of  Malton? 

At  least  one  villa  has  been  investigated  in  Langton  parish  c.  3 km  to  the  north-east  of 
Burythorpe  church  (Colder  and  Kirk  1932)  (Fig.  17).  Another  two  villas  are  known  in 
Wharram  parish,  c.  4.5km  further  to  the  north-east  (Rahtz  et  al.,  1986;  Hayfield  1987  - Fig. 
17).  There  are  two  poorly  recorded  villas  in  Huttons  Ambo  parish  at  Musley  Bank  and 
Roughborough  Farm  (Kitson  Clark  1935,  111,  123),  7 km  to  the  north-west  of  Burythorpe 
(Fig.  17).  All  these  villas,  along  with  Beadlam  and  Hovingham,  situated  further  to  the  north- 
west, are  assumed  to  be  in  the  hinterland  of  the  Roman  fort  and  civilian  centre  of  Malton/ 

If  it  is  right  to  suggest  that  villas  occur  in  pairs,  such  as  the  Langton  villas  (Ramm  1988), 
and  those  at  Wharram  Grange/Wharram-le-Street,  and  Musley  Bank/Roughborough  Farm, 
suggests  that  it  may  be  legitimate  to  pair  the  Burythorpe  church  site  to  the  Burythorpe 
sandworks  villa.  Structure  3 at  Burythorpe  church  was  of  some  pretension,  with  at  least 
some  of  its  walls  utilising  fine-grained  imported  limestone  rather  than  the  coarser  limestones 
and  sandstones  that  were  immediately  to  hand.  The  ceramic  building  material  included 
box-flue  tiles,  brick  and  roofing  tile,  which  again  points  to  a relatively  high  status  building, 
with  a tiled  roof  and  a hypocaust.  A possible  tessera  fragment  hints  at  the  presence  of  a 
mosaic  floor.  Although  the  inhabitants  of  the  Burythorpe  church  site  therefore  had  many  of 
the  trappings  of  comfortable  living,  there  is  a lack  of  evidence  for  painted  wall  plaster  and 
proven  mosaic  flooring  which  would  both  be  anticipated  at  a villa  site.  Plough  damage  may 
partly  account  for  these  gaps  in  evidence,  but  it  also  remains  a distinct  possibility  that 
another  high  status  building  forming  an  addition  to  the  identified  complex  awaits  discovery 
in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  the  excavation. 

Ultimately,  questions  regarding  the  status  of  the  Burythorpe  church  site  and  how  it  relates 
to  the  sandworks  villa,  plus  how  both  sites  relate  to  the  known  prehistoric  settlement,  can 
only  be  answered  by  further  fieldwork  at  the  site  itself,  and  within  the  landscape  in  which  it 
lies.  The  discoveiy  of  a previously  unsuspected  and  significant  multi-period  site  at  Burythorpe 
church  is  an  indication  of  the  richness  of  the  archaeological  landscape  and  the  extent  to 
which  it  would  repay  further  research. 


MAP  Archaeological  Constancy  Ltd  would  like  to  thank  Messrs  J.  Smithson  and  F.  Francis  for 
drawing  our  attention  to  the  site  and  the  potential  threat  to  it,  as  well  as  their  support  and 
encouragement.  We  would  also  like  to  thank  Schenactady-Europe  for  providing  plant.  Thanks  are 
also  due  to  Mr  D.  Boak,  the  landowner,  for  altering  the  crop  and  tree-planting  programme  in  order 
to  allow  more  time  for  excavation  work.  The  churchwardens,  Lieutenant-General  Sir  Rollo  Pain 
and  Brigadier  R.  St.  C.  Preston,  kindly  allowed  additional  time  for  the  excavation  of  the  area  of  the 
churchyard  extension. 

Thanks  are  also  due  to  the  late  A.  L.  Pacitto  for  responding  quickly  to  a request  to  undertake  a 
metal-detecting  survey  so  as  to  protect  the  site  from  unwelcome  attention,  and  to  Dr  J.  Evans  and 
T.  G.  Manby  for  their  thoughts  on  the  pottery  assemblage. 

The  Environmental  Archaeology  Unit  of  the  University  of  York  provided  advice  on  an 
environmental  sampling  programme  and  undertook  an  assessment  of  the  biological  remains  and 
animal  bone.  The  metal  objects  and  small  finds  were  assessed  by  the  conservation  laboratory  of 
York  Archaeological  Trust  and  Dr  Hilary  Cool,  flint  objects  were  assessed  by  Peter  Makey,  and  the 



ceramic  building  material  was  assessed  by  Sandra  Garside-Neville  of  Brick  and  Tile  Services,  York. 
The  coins  were  kindly  identified  by  Craig  Barclay  of  the  Yorkshire  Museum,  York. 

Thanks  go  to  Adrian  Bailey,  Mike  Holdsworth,  David  Hunter,  Mark  Johnson,  Nick  Machin, 
Brian  Milner  and  Paula  Ware  who  all  worked  on  the  site.  Kelly  Hunter  prepared  Figures  1-13  & 17; 
the  principal  author  drew  Figures  14-16. 

Finally,  MAP  would  like  to  thank  English  Heritage  for  funding  this  programme  of  work,  and  Pete 
Wilson  for  encouragement  and  support. 


Corder,  P.  1940  Excavations  at  Elmswell,  East  Yorkshire,  1938 ’ Hull:  Hull  Museum  Publication  207 

— , and  Kirk,  J.L.  1932  A Roman  Villa  at  Langton,  near  Malton,  East  Yorkshire,  Leeds:  Roman 
Malton  and  District  Report  4 

Evans,  J.  1989,  in  P.  Wilson  (ed)  Crambeck  Roman  Pottery  Industry,  Leeds,  43-90 

— , 1995  ‘Reflecting  on  Later  Iron  Age  and  ‘Native’  Roman-British  Pottery  in  Northern  England’,  in 
B.  Vyner  (ed.)  Moorland  Monuments:  Studies  in  the  Archaeology  of  North-East  Yorkshire  in  Honour  of 
Raymond  Hayes  and  Don  Spratt.  Council  for  British  Archaeology  Research  Report  101,  46-48 

Finney,  A.  E.  1989  Burythorpe  Quarry  - Archaeological  Sample  Excavations,  East  Riding 
Archaeological  Research  Committee  unpublished  typescript  report 

Hayes,  R.  H.  1966  ‘A  Romano-British  site  at  Pale  End,  Kildale’,  YA  J 41,  687-700 

— , 1988  North-east  Yorkshire  Studies:  Archaeological  Papers,  Leeds 

Hayfield,  C.  1987  An  Archaeological  Survey  of  the  Parish  ofWharram  Percy,  East  Yorkshire.  1:  The 
Evolution  of  the  Roman  Landscape.  British  Archaeological  Reports  British  Series  172 

Hull,  M.  R.  1930  ‘The  Pottery’,  in  M.  K.  Clark,  ‘Iron  Age  Sites  in  the  Vale  of  Pickering’,  YAJ  30, 

Kitson  Clark,  M.  1935  A Gazetteer  of  Roman  Remains  in  East  Yorkshire,  Leeds:  Roman  Malton 
and  District  Report  5 

Mackney,  D.  et  al.  1983  Soils  of  England  and  Wales.  Sheet  1:  Northern  England,  Harpenden 

Manby,  T.  G.  1994  Burythorpe,  Later  Bronze  Age  Pottery.  Unpublished  archive  report  MAP  1990 
Kennythorpe  sandworks,  unpublished  typescript  report 

— , 1991  a Fieldwalking  Evaluation  at  a Roman  Villa  Site  - SAM  1094,  Burythorpe,  North  Yorkshire, 
unpublished  typescript  report 

— , 1991b  Orchard  Fields  - Derventio;  the  1992  Excavations 

Neal,  D.  S.  1996  Excavations  on  the  Roman  Villa  at  Beadlam,  Yorkshire,  Yorkshire  Archaeological 
Report  2,  Leeds 

Payne,  A.W.  1991  Burythorpe  Sand  Quarry,  North  Yorkshire:  A Report  on  Geophysical  Surveys 
1988.  Ancient  Monuments  Laboratory  Reports  Series  117/91 

Rahtz,  P.,  Hayfield,  C.,  and  Bateman,  J.  1986  Two  Roman  Villas  at  Wharram  Le  Street.  York:  York 
University  Archaeological  Publications  2 

Ramm,  H.  G.  1988  ‘Aspects  of  the  Roman  Countryside  in  East  Yorkshire’,  in  J.  Price  and  P.  Wilson 
(eds),  Recent  Research  in  Roman  Yorkshire:  Studies  in  honour  of  Mary  Kitson  Clark  (Mrs  Dermas 
Chitty).  British  Archaeological  Reports  British  Series  193,  81-88 

Smith,  A.  H.  (ed.)  1937  The  Place-names  of  the  East  Riding  of  Yorkshire  and  York. 

Stead,  I.  M.  1980  Rudston  Roman  Villa,  Leeds 

This  report  is  published  with  the  aid  of  a grant  from  English  Heritage. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 



^vPete  Wilson 

The  evidence  for  Roman-period  military  and  civilian  occupation  at  Malton/Norton  is 
reviewed,  including  data  from  PPG-16  interventions.  The  extent  and  character  of  the  civilian 
settlement  is  considered,  along  with  the  burial  evidence  and  that  for  craft  and  industry  It  is 
suggested  that  the  civilian  settlements  may  have  extended  to  some  22  ha,  although  in  Norton 
it  was  inter-mixed  with  industrial  and  burial  activity  The  garrisons  of  the  fort  are  discussed 
and  the  possibility  of  a Germanic  garrison  from  the  later  third  century  proposed.  The 
identification  of  the  settlement  with  the  Delgovicia  of  the  Antonine  Itinerary  is  preferred 
(after  Creighton  1998)  and  it  is  suggested  that  the  settlement  should  be  considered  a 1 small 
town  ’ rather  than  simply  a vicus  tied  economically  to  the  fort. 


The  military  aspects  of  Malton/Norton  are  established  in  the  archaeological  literature,  largely 
through  the  work  of  Philip  Corder  and  J.  L.  Kirk  in  the  1920s  on  the  site  of  the  auxiliary  fort 
in  Orchard  Field  (Corder  1930),  but  the  civilian  components  are  less  well  known.  In  1971 
Professor  John  Wacher  discussed  Malton/Norton  alongside  Aldborough,  Brough-on-Flumber 
and  Catterick  in  his  paper  ‘Yorkshire  towns  in  the  fourth  century’,  albeit  concluding  that  in 
the  later  fourth  century  the  civilian  community  occupied  the  area  of  the  fort  alongside  a much- 
reduced  military  garrison  (Wacher  1971).  Sommer  (1984,  20-1)  discusses  the  civilian  site  as  a 
vicus,  initially  focussed  on  an  annexe  that  also  contained  baths  and  a mansio. 

Given  that  background  it  is  perhaps  not  surprising  that  Malton/Norton  was  not  included  in 
the  classic  study  of  the  subject  of  Roman  ‘small  towns’:  The  \ Small  Towns’  of  Roman  Britain 
(Burnham  and  Wacher  1990).  The  authors  articulate  the  difficulties  of  their  subject  matter  - 
conflicting  terminologies,  subjective  criteria,  and  the  limitations  of  the  archaeological  evi- 
dence, as  well  the  problems  inherent  in  previous  approaches  that  have  relied  on  the  provision 
of  defences,  relationship  to  the  communications  network,  or  evidence  of  dependence  on  trade 
as  indicators  of  urban  status  (Burnham  and  Wacher  1990,  1).  Their  solution  was  to  ‘include  a 
wide  range  of  sites  which  have  at  one  time  or  another  been  called  small  towns,  even  though,  for 
some  there  is  likely  to  be  little  agreement  among  archaeologists’  (Burnham  and  Wacher  1990, 
1-2).  Despite  the  casting  of  a wide  net  Malton/Norton  was  not  included,  perhaps  reflecting  the 
paucity  of  published  data  at  the  time.  In  developing  this  paper  the  author  has  had  the  benefit 
of  access  to  unpublished  data  from  recent  excavations  and  recording  and  through  the  incorpo- 
ration of  that  data  this  paper  seeks  to  re-examine  the  nature  of  the  civilian  component  of  the 
settlement.  As  presented  it  represents  an  expansion  and  development  of  ideas  that  were  sum- 
marised in  a paper  in  Professor  John  Wacher’s  Festschrift  (Wilson  2003). 



X ::  x 0-50m 
mmm  5040Gm 


Figure  1.  The  location  of  Malton/Norton. 




Malton/Norton  has  benefited  from  the  observations  of  antiquarians  and  archaeologists 
over  many  years.  Modern  researchers  are  fortunate  to  have  these  disparate  records  of  discov- 
eries during  building  work  and  similar  destructive  interventions  summarised  in  Kitson  Clark’s 
Gazetteer  of  Roman  Remains  in  Yorkshire  (Kitson  Clark  1935, 19-20,  99-108,  113-18)  and  the 
relevant  sections  of  The  Archaeology  of  Malton  and  Norton  (Robinson  1978,  5-10,  24-29,  34- 
40),  the  latter  also  serving  to  review  the  data  available  to  Kitson  Clark. 

The  Fort 

The  military  history  of  the  site  has  been  considered  a number  of  times  (Corder  and  Kirk 
1928;  Corder  1930;  Wenham  1974,  11-35)  and  was  summarised  by  Wenham  and  Heywood 
(1997,  36).  In  the  latter  publication  data  from  the  1968-70  excavations  previously  suggested  by 
Wenham  (1974,  9)  as  evidence  of  a camp  dating  to  the  time  of  Bolanus  or  Cerialis,  is  shown  to 
be  somewhat  later,  although  the  possibility  of  Cerialian  occupation  remains  (Wenham  and 
Heywood  1997, 36).  The  ‘early  rampart’  found  in  1968-70  is  now  known  to  be  Trajanic  and  the 
wooden  buildings  suggested  as  contemporary  with  it  (Wenham  1974, 9),  Antonine.  Otherwise 
the  military  history  of  the  site  is  fairly  well  understood  in  outline,  and  even  one  of  the  garrisons 
is  known,  the  Ala  Picentiana  (Wright  and  Hassall  1971, 290;  Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  pi. 
3).  This  unit  was  probably  in  residence  in  the  Antonine  period  from  the  style  of  the  inscrip- 
tion. Its  arrival  may  have  coincided  with  the  reoccupation  of  the  fort  after  AD  158,  from  which 
time  it  appears  to  have  been  garrisoned  until  the  end  of  the  Roman  period.  What  is  to  be 
disputed  is  the  claim  that  the  later  fourth-century  garrison  was  the  Numerus  Supervenientium 
Petueriensium  (Wenham  1974,  34;  Wenham  and  Heywood  1997, 38).  This  suggestion  derives 
from  the  belief  that  Malton/Norton  is  mentioned  in  the  Notitia  Dignitatum  as  Derventio 
(Rivet  and  Smith  1979, 333-34),  a view  questioned  by  Creighton  (1988),  whose  arguments  this 
author  finds  persuasive  ( con tra  Wenham  and  Heywood  1997, 1 fn.  1).  Creighton  suggests  that 
the  Yorkshire  Derventio  is  Stamford  Bridge  and  that  Malton/Norton  is  Delgovicia  as  re- 
corded in  the  Antonine  Itinerary.  If  Creighton’s  argument  is  accepted  the  Numerus 
Supervenientium  Petueriensium  would  be  stationed  at  Papcastle  in  Cumbria,  which  was  also 
known  as  Derventio  (Rivet  and  Smith  1979,  334).  In  support  of  Creighton’s  suggestion  it  is 
perhaps  worth  noting  the  increasing  body  of  data  relating  to  Roman  occupation  at  Stamford 
Bridge  (Esmonde  Cleary  1995,  345;  1997,  417;  Lawton  1994;  1997;  1999;  2003;  2005;  NAA 
2004,  38-39;  Ramm  1955;  1966;  1978,  31-34). 

Our  understanding  of  the  military  sequences  at  Malton,  based  on  Corder’s  work  on  the 
defences  and  reassessment  since,  may  be  summarised  as  follows: 

• A shallow  military  ditch  was  recorded  by  Wenham  on  a north-west  to  south-east  line,  with  a 
rampart  on  its  northern  side.  These  features  appear  to  represent  an  otherwise  unknown  camp  of 
uncertain  date,  although  Wenham  and  Heywood  ( 1997, 5)  assign  it  to  the  ‘last  quarter  of  the  1st 
century’  (their  Period  la).  Quantities  of  earlier  pottery,  including  Vespasianic  and  early  Flavian 
samian  residual  in  later  contexts,  nevertheless  support  the  possibility  of  Cerialian  occupation. 

• The  first  authenticated  phase  of  permanent  military  occupation  is  represented  by  an 
Agricolan  fort  in  turf  and  timber,  the  internal  arrangements  of  which  are  unknown.  The  most 
intensively  investigated  area  of  the  defences  is  the  north-east  gate,  which  at  this  time  was  a twin 
portal  structure.  It  is  possible  that  the  replacement  of  the  defences  in  stone  was  commenced 



fairly  rapidly,  but  it  was  not  completed  at  this  time. 

• In  the  Trajanic  period  the  fort  defences  were  rebuilt  in  stone,  with  new  ditches  being  cut 
further  out  from  the  walls  and  the  north-east  gate  rebuilt  as  a single-portal  structure.  At  this 
time  an  annexe  may  have  been  constructed  (Wenham  and  Heywood  1997, 36). 

• It  appears  that  the  fort  at  Malton  fits  the  model  for  abandonment  in  the  Hadrianic  period 
suggested  for  many  forts  in  the  north  of  Britain  (Frere  1987,  114).  However  the  excavator 
suggests  at  one  point  that  ‘it  seems  unlikely  that  Malton  was  fully  garrisoned’  at  this  time 
(Corder  1930,  66),  implying  the  possibility  of  continuing  military  occupation  of  some  type. 
That  having  been  said,  in  discussing  the  north-east  gate  Corder  (1930, 46)  refers  to  a period  of 
abandonment.  However  the  pottery  evidence  from  the  fort  as  a whole  is  suggested  as  strongly 
supporting  re-occupation  in  the  late  150’s  (Hartley  1971,  62,  67  fn.  54).  In  any  event,  in  the  later 
second  century,  or  early  in  the  third  century,  the  Trajanic  north-east  gate  was  refurbished  with 
the  size  of  the  fort  being  maintained,  suggesting  the  same  type  of  garrison  and  perhaps  func- 
tion. For  this  period  there  is  evidence  of  contemporary  internal  wooden  buildings  in  the 
retentura  (Corder  1930,  66,  fig.  31). 

• During  the  late  third  or  early  fourth  century,  the  north-east  gate  was  again  rebuilt,  largely 
in  reused  material.  On  the  basis  of  the  quantity  of  coins  of  Carausius  and  Allectus,  over  5%  of 
the  total  found,  Mattingly  (1930,  1 14)  suggests  ‘a  revival  of  activity ...  under  their  rule’,  to  which 
this  refurbishment  might  belong.  Alternatively  the  work  might  fit  a Constantinian  context. 

• Also  possibly  of  this  period  is  the  well-known  deposit  of  burnt  grain,  apparently  destroyed 
because  it  had  become  insect-infested  while  in  store  (Buckland  1982).  Bidwell  and  Croom 
(1997,  102)  have  refined  the  dating  of  this  deposit  noting  that  ‘the  presence  of  BB1  or  BB1 
imitation  flanged  bowls  shows  that ...  [it  can  be] ...  dated  no  earlier  than  the  second  half,  and 
probably  the  last  quarter,  of  the  3rd  century’.  However,  as  Buckland  (1982,  55)  has  noted,  it 
could  be  as  late  as  AD  350. 

• During  the  fourth  century  and  post-dating  the  burnt  grain  deposit,  there  is  evidence  for 
well-built  stone  buildings  within  the  fort,  including  an  apsidal  building  cut  into  the  back  of  the 
north-eastern  rampart.  There  were  further  modifications  to  the  north-east  gate,  including  its 
partial  blocking  with  earth  and  timber,  the  fort  wall  is  described  as  ruined  at  the  time  (Corder 
1930,  fig.  11).  From  this  period  there  are  29  infant  burials  from  within  the  area  of  the  fort. 

• Corder  argued  for  a further  phase  of  rebuilding  within  the  fort  coupled  with  the  replace- 
ment of  the  north  guard  chamber  of  the  north-east  gate  in  the  late  fourth  century,  his  Period  6 
(AD  370-395).  It  is  possible  that  his  start  date  for  this  period  should  be  revised  to  c.  AD  350/ 
55  to  reflect  the  modified  dating  of  later  East  Yorkshire  ceramics,  notably  Crambeck  parch- 
ment ware  and  Huntcliff-type  proposed  by  Hird  (1997,  248),  although  this  revised  dating  has 
recently  be  challenged  by  Bidwell  (1996)  and  is  possible  that  the  start  date  of  c.  AD  370  should 
stand.  However  it  appears  likely  that  Corder’s  terminal  date  of  AD  395  for  this  phase  is  too 
early  and  dictated  by  a wish  to  have  a final  phase  to  accommodate  the  ‘wall  ditch’  (see  below) 
within  the  Roman  period. 

• Corder  had  a final  fort  phase  dating  to  AD  395-400  (his  Period  7)  when  ‘no  surviving  part 
of  the  masonry  of  any  of  the  previous  gates  can  have  been  visible’  (Corder  1930,  51).  The 
defence  at  this  time  was  a ditch  that  he  saw  as  originating  in  his  Period  6,  which  he  called  the 
‘wall-ditch’  as  it  was  cut  into  the  foundation  of  the  fort  wall,  leaving  space  for  a wall  2ft  [0.6m] 



wide  on  the  old  footing.  There  seems  to  be  little  justification  for  an  assumption  of  such  rapid 
decay  of  the  fort  defences,  nor  for  Corder’s  dating  of  this  feature,  and  a date  in  the  fifth  century, 
or  possibly  later  must  be  considered. 

The  Civilian  Settlement 

The  report  on  the  1968-1970  excavations  in  Orchard  Field  to  the  south-east  of  the  fort 
(Wenham  and  Heywood  1997)  is  crucial  to  any  understanding  of  the  civilian  component  of 
Malton/Norton  in  the  Roman  period,  particularly  when  considered  with  that  on  the  excava- 
tions of  1949-52  undertaken  some  50  m north  of  the  1968-70  site  by  the  Rev.  D.  Smith 
(Mitchelson  1964).  As  noted  above  the  site  has  also  benefited  from  a number  of  other  consid- 
erations, including  that  by  Professor  Wacher  (1971,  174-76).  He  describes  the  civilian  settle- 
ment as  a vicus  into  the  fourth  century,  but  suggests  that  during  the  late  fourth  century  the 
civilian  population  ‘gradually ...  [took]  over  the  fort,  so  that  it  must  have  ended  its  life  more  like 
a walled  town’  (Wacher  1971,  176). 

The  history  of  the  non-fort  areas  of  Roman  Malton/Norton  is  not  easily  summarised.  The 
use  of  the  term  ‘non-fort’  is  deliberate  as  Wenham  and  Heywood  convincingly  demonstrate  the 
existence  of  an  annexe,  and/or  a defended  vicus , of  two  phases  attached  to  the  fort  in  the 
Trajanic  period.  Annexes  are  common  in  association  with  early  Roman  forts,  providing  se- 
cure accommodation  for  supplies  in  transit  and  securing  facilities  located  outside  the  fort 
defences  such  as  the  military  bath  house.  Certain,  or  possible  examples  are  known  in  York- 
shire at:  Catterick  (Wilson  2002a  119;  2002b,  fig.  419)  Catterick  (Wilson  2002a  119;  2002b, 
fig.  419);  Doncaster  (Buckland  and  Magilton  1986),  Greta  Bridge  (Olivier  1987,  118;  although 
Casey  and  Hoffman  (1998)  make  no  mention  of  defences),  Ilkley  (Salway  1965,  41;  although 
Hartley  (1987)  makes  no  mention  of  defences),  and  Slack  (Manby  1967).  The  ascription  of  the 
Malton  annexe/  vicus  defences  to  Sommer’s  Group  1 ‘small  annexe  attached  to  half  the  side  of 
the  fort’  (Sommer  1984, 18)  by  Heywood  and  Wenham  (1997, 36)  suggests  that  the  layout  of  the 
earliest  military  phases  of  Malton  may  have  been  broadly  similar  to  that  at  Catterick,  where  an 
annexe  containing  the  military  bath  house  was  attached  to  the  northern  part  of  the  eastern 
rampart  (Wilson  2002b,  453-54).  As  was  probably  the  case  at  Catterick,  Wenham  and  Heywood 
suggest  that  the  existence  of  an  annexe  does  not  preclude  the  development  of  a contemporary 
wms/Wenham  and  Heywood  1997, 36).  However,  following  Sommer,  they  also  make  the  valid 
point  that  the  distinction  between  an  annexe  and  vicus  at  this  date  appears  less  than  clear  cut 
and  without  more  evidence  from  Malton  we  cannot  be  certain  what  use  this  defended  enclo- 
sure was  put  to. 

In  1978,  when  Robinson  produced  his  volume,  the  evidence  for  civilian  occupation  on  the 
Malton  side  of  the  river  was  concentrated  in  the  area  outside  the  south-east  gate  (the  porta 
praetoria ),  between  the  fort  and  the  river,  with  more  limited  evidence  of  occupation  deriving 
from  the  area  outside  the  porta  principalis  sinistra  on  the  north-eastern  side  of  the  fort.  In 
addition  Old  Malton  had  produced  a handful  of  finds  (Robinson  1978,  24  nos.  40-43).  On  the 
Norton  side  he  was  able  to  plot  a large  number  of  antiquarian  finds,  the  results  of  more  recent 
excavations  and  the  recording  of  casual  discoveries.  A large  part  of  the  more  recent  work  has 
involved  the  recording  of  the  Norton  Roman  pottery  industry  and  related  activity  (Hayes  and 
Whitley  1950;  Hayes  1988,  66-89). 



Orchard  Field 


Line  of  Trajanic 
vicus  defences  ^ 


Late  Roman/sub-Roman 
ditch  and  rampart 

— Recorded 
elements  of 
vicus  defences 

L>Xy  Walls 
Z.’Z  Roads 


Figure  2.  Plan  showing  Roman-period  civilian  buildings  in  the  Orchard  Field  area  (after  Robinson 
1978,  fig.  6b  and  Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  fig.  1) 


By  the  time  of  Robinson’s  survey  some  20  buildings  had  been  recorded  in  the  Orchard  Field 
area,  largely  focused  on  the  line  of  two  roads  that  converge  immediately  south  of  the  porta 
praetoria . Our  knowledge  of  the  civilian  settlement  in  this  area  (Fig.  2)  can  be  summarised  as 
follows  (after  Heywood,  in  Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  36-38): 

• Possible  evidence  of  a Flavian  vicus , or  possibly  early  military  activity,  overlain  in  part  at 
least  by  the  Trajanic  annexe/  vicus  defences. 

• Timber  buildings  dating  to  the  period  AD  79-108  in  the  area  of  the  1949-52  excavations 
located  outside  the  area  of  the  two  phases  of  Trajanic  annexe  defence,  although  these  build- 



ings  could  be  military  and  might  belong  to  a Cerialian  phase. 

• Hadrianic/Antonine  period.  Buildings  constructed  over  annexe  defences;  some  of  tim- 
ber, others  of  wattle  and  daub  on  stone  sill-walls. 

• Third  century.  At  least  one  of  the  buildings  in  the  area  of  the  1949-52  excavations  re- 
mained in  use  (Mitchelson  1964,  Building  G).  There  was  new  construction  to  the  south  in  the 
area  of  the  1968-70  excavations  (Buildings  I,  V and  T IV  - Wenham  and  Heywood  1997). 
Further  to  the  east  the  area  was  largely  used  for  dumping  although  new  vicus  defences  were 
provided  in  the  form  of  a rampart  and  wall  accompanied  by  two  ditches,  running  south-east 
from  the  eastern  corner  of  the  fort. 

• There  was  major  rebuilding  within  the  vicus  in  the  early  fourth  century.  Wenham  and 
Heywood  connect  this  with  the  rebuilding  evidenced  in  the  fort  at  this  time  (Wenham  and 
Heywood  1997, 37).  To  this  phase  can  be  ascribed  the  ‘Town  House’  with  its  mosaic  (Mitchelson 
1964,  pi.  ix;  Neal  and  Cosh  344-46)  and  painted  plaster  (Davey  and  Ling  1981,  145-46;  Smith 
2000),  and  other  buildings  from  the  1949-52  work  including  the  Kiln  Building  and  Building  Y 
(Mitchelson  1964,  223-29,  231).  In  the  area  of  the  1968-70  excavations  at  least  five  new 
masonry  buildings  were  ascribed  to  this  period  (Buildings  III,  IV,  VI-VIII),  and  are  suggested 
as  possibly  representing  ‘a  4th-century  mansio  ...  with  a linked  if  not  contiguous  bath-house’ 
(Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  38); 

• Refurbishment  of  structures  after  demolition/destruction,  including  the  Town  House 
and  Buildings  VI  and  VII/VIII,  post-AD  350  demonstrates  the  continuation  of  occupation 
into  the  latter  part  of  the  fourth  century.  In  addition  there  are  at  least  two  structures  to  which 
Wenham  and  Heywood  ascribe  a post-AD  350  date;  the  ‘rough  rectangular  stone  hut’  overly- 
ing the  Kiln  Building  from  the  1949-52  excavations  and  Building  II  from  the  later  work 
(Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  38). 

• In  the  latter  part  of  the  fourth  century  Building  II  was  substantially  rebuilt  and  a forge 
inserted  in  Building  I. 

• A defensive  ditch  and  rampart  facing  north-east  was  cut  across  the  Town  House  and  Kiln 
Building,  excluding  Buildings  IV  and  VI-VIII  from  the  defended  area.  Following  Wenham 
(1974, 33)  Heywood  suggests  that  it  ‘can  hardly  be  earlier  than  the  fifth  century  and  might  well 
belong  to  the  sub-Roman  period’  (Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  38). 

More  recent  work  has  produced  much  new  data  that  is  yet  to  be  fully  published.  New 
information  has  been  added  for  areas  that  are  relatively  well  known,  for  example  the  vicusi n 
Orchard  Field  where  first-century  post-holes  and  stone  buildings  of  second-  to  fourth-century 
date  have  been  found  (MAP  1993, 32-34).  South-west  of  Orchard  Field  test-holes  on  Sheepfoot 
Hill  revealed  evidence  of  third-century  timber  buildings  and  fourth-century  stone  structures 
(Finney  1990-91).  However  the  major  fact  that  emerges  from  a review  of  the  data  currently 
available  is  that  there  is  an  intensity  of  occupation  apparent  in  areas  other  than  those  recog- 
nised at  the  time  of  Robinson’s  survey.  To  the  areas  noted  by  Robinson  need  to  be  added  Old 
Maltongate  outside  the  north-west  gate  (or  porta  decumana)  of  the  fort  (MAP  1998a);  St 
Leonard’s  Churchyard  west  of  the  fort  (YAT  1992);  Malton  New  Rugby  Club,  some  400  m 
from  the  north-east  gate  of  the  fort  (Stephens  and  Ware  1995,  12-14);  Sheepfoot  Hill/King’s 
Mill  (Finney  1990-91;  MAP  undated)  and  the  area  of  Castle  Howard  Road  where  Roman 
period  boundary  features  have  been  noted  (Stephens  1992a;  1992b;  MAP  1996). 



N 1 

Figure  3.  Malton/Norton  showing  major  sites  and  finds  spots  referred  to  in  the  text. 



What  is  not  clear  from  most  of  these  small-scale  interventions  is  the  character  and  extent  of 
the  deposits  encountered,  although  in  the  case  of  Malton  New  Rugby  Club  we  can  be  more 
certain.  There  top-soiling  in  advance  of  the  construction  of  the  pitches  led  to  the  discovery  by 
machine  of  three  very  well-preserved  limestone  built  buildings  of  second-  to  third-century  date 
(Stephens  and  Ware  1995,  12-14).  These  structures  suggest  strongly  the  existence  of  extensive 
ribbon  development  extending  north-east  from  the  fort,  possibly  linking  with  the  occupation 
in  the  area  of  Old  Malton  and  that  immediately  east  of  the  railway  noted  by  Robinson  (above 
and  Fig.  3).  Similarly  work  in  St  Leonard’s  Churchyard  has  produced  Roman  period  stone- 
built  structures  of  third-  and  fourth-century  date  with  evidence  of  painted  plaster  amongst  the 
demolition  debris  (YAT  1992).  This  latter  find  extends,  what  is  probably  evidence  of  civilian 
occupation,  into  what  was  previously  regarded  as  an  unoccupied  area. 


The  evidence  from  the  Norton  side  of  the  river  largely  consists  of  isolated  discoveries  of 
buildings,  substantial  traces  of  industrial  activity  (primarily  pottery  production),  and  burials. 
This  is  in  large  part  because  the  area  has  not  received  as  much  systematic  attention  as  its 
neighbour  across  the  river,  the  majority  of  the  data  being  drawn  from  casual  finds,  or  ‘salvage’ 
excavations.  That  having  been  said,  Robinson  (1978,  34-40)  lists  some  140  ‘sites’  and  finds 
spots  on  the  south-eastern  bank  of  the  river,  although  many  of  these  relate  to  cemeteries  and 
reports  of  discoveries  of  burials  (see  below).  However  there  are  at  least  24  sites  and  finds  spots 
that  have  produced  evidence  of  building  remains,  often  ‘stone  floors’  or  isolated  walls.  Given 
the  nature  of  the  recording  that  has  been  undertaken  in  Norton  the  limited  detail  is  perhaps 
not  surprising,  nor  is  the  fact  that  the  later  Roman  period  is  better  represented  in  the  archaeo- 
logical record  than  the  earlier.  What  is  clear  is  that  there  is  evidence  for  settlement  in  the 
Norton  area  from  the  middle  of  the  second  century  with  a probably  domestic  Antonine  stone 
building  near  the  north  end  of  Langton  Road  (Robinson  1978, 35  no.  264).  This  structure  was 
replaced  by  a substantial  stone  building  with  opus  signinum  floor,  which  later  in  its  history  was 
put  to  an  industrial  use,  with  a smelting  hearth  being  inserted  into  the  floor.  Elsewhere  evi- 
dence of  occupation  in  the  third  and  fourth  centuries,  and  perhaps  beyond,  has  been  recorded 
on  a number  of  sites,  the  Eastfields  Estate  and  St  Peter’s  Vicarage  Garden  being  two  examples. 
It  is  perhaps  significant  that  at  Eastfields,  the  removal  of  part  of  the  fourth-century  paving 
revealed  some  evidence  of  third-century  occupation  suggesting  that  the  site  may  represent 
expansion  of  domestic  occupation  at  a time  contemporary  with  the  development  of  the  Norton 
pottery  industry.  As  in  Malton  more  recent  work  has  added  to  our  knowledge  of  Norton  with 
evidence  of  buildings  at  the  Bright  Steels  (Stephens  and  Ware  1995,  14)  and  Ryedale  Cash 
Registers  (MAP  1998b)  sites. 

The  Pottery  industry 

The  best  evidence  that  we  have  relating  to  pottery  production  derives  from  the  area  of  Howe 
Road  and  Langton  Road,  where  a group  of  kilns  was  excavated  in  1948-49  (Hayes  and  Whitley 
1950;  Hayes  1988,  72-77).  However  it  appears  that  these  only  represent  a proportion  of  what 
was  an  extensive  industry:  Bidwell  and  Croom  (1997,  101)  allow  at  least  13  kilns  and  there  is 
possible  evidence  for  up  to  a further  10,  along  with  other  material  such  as  fire  bars.  Recent 
work  at  Grove  Cottage  has  added  a further  single-flued  up-draught  kiln,  similar  to  those 
reported  by  Hayes  and  Whitley  (Hayes  and  Whitley  1950;  Hayes  1988,  72-76),  while  geophysi- 



cal  survey  has  suggested  more  kilns  in  the  area  (Gater  1986). 

Pottery  production  at  Norton  has  been  considered  by  a number  of  authorities  (Swan  1984, 
109-11;  Evans  1988,  324-26;  Bidwell  and  Croom  1997,  101-03)  as  well  as  by  Corder  in  the 
original  publication  of  the  kilns  (Hayes  and  Whitley  1950,  26-37).  As  currently  known  from 
the  kiln  evidence  pottery  production  at  Norton  was  a third-  and  possibly  early  fourth-century 
phenomenon.  Swan  (1984,  109-1 1 ) has  suggested  production  in  the  later  second  century  and 
more  recently  Bidwell  and  Croom  ( 1997, 101 ) have  stated  that  ‘the  grey  ware  fabric  used  at  the 
Norton  kilns  is  identical  to  that  used  for  1st  and  2nd  century  vessels’,  although  no  kilns  of  that 
date  have  been  identified.  Early  products  included  mortaria,  although  Hartley  and  Croom 
(1997, 110)  suggest  that  local  mortaria  production  went  into  decline  in  the  late  second  century 
- ‘although  at  least  one  local  kiln  site  appears  to  have  continued  into  the  third  century’. 

Other  crafts 

It  is  clear  that  other  crafts  would  have  been  practised  in  Roman  Malton/Norton,  as  is 
suggested  by  the  insertion  of  a furnace,  possibly  for  iron  smithing/smelting,  into  the  floor  of  a 
fourth-century  building  in  Norton  (Robinson  1978,  35  no.  264)  and  also  by  the  well  known 
inscription  referring  to  a goldsmith’s  shop  (RIBIXf).  Indeed  it  is  possible  that  some  of  the 
‘possible  kilns’  referred  to  above  could  represent  high  temperature  industries  other  than 
pottery  production.  However  what  is  also  clear  is  that  in  Norton  this  activity,  including  pottery 
production,  happened  in  a suburban  context  with  buildings  intermingled  with  the  workshops. 
No  doubt  some  of  these  would  have  been  directly  related  to  the  industrial  activity  and  would 
have  been  used  for  activities  such  as  pot-drying,  while  others  presumably  represented  homes 
and  shops.  A similar  relationship  has  been  observed  at  Water  Newton,  where  the  extra-mural 
suburb  north  of  the  River  Nene  in  the  Normangate  Field  area  has  produced  extensive  evi- 
dence of  occupation  and  industrial  activity  (Hartley  1960,  7;  Dannell  1974;  Burnham  and 
Wacher  1990,  84-87).  At  Norton  tesserae  from  Commercial  Street  suggest  that  high  status 
occupation  may  have  existed  in  fairly  close  proximity  to  the  industrial  activity,  unless  the  finds 
relate  to  a workshop  for  their  production.  This  apparent  inter-mingling  of  occupation  with 
settlement  further  obscures  the  extent,  or  at  least  the  intensity,  of  the  civilian  settlement  on  the 
Norton  side  of  the  river. 


The  cemeteries  of  Roman  Malton/Norton  are  poorly  known,  although  a number  of  indi- 
vidual find-spots  and  small  groups  of  burials  have  been  recorded.  On  the  Malton  side  of  the 
river,  in  addition  to  the  29  infant  burials  within  the  fort,  cremations  and  inhumations,  includ- 
ing a stone  sarcophagus  and  a possible  gypsum  burial,  are  known  outside  the  porta  principalis 
sinistra  (Robinson  1978,  26,  nos.  67,  69-71,  73,  74).  To  the  north-west  of  the  fort,  close  to  the 
line  of  the  road  from  the  porta  decumana,  an  inscribed  tombstone  (RIB7H)  was  found  in  the 
eighteenth  century,  and  the  area  has  also  produced  ‘urns’.  A contracted  burial  was  found  in 
1848  outside  the  southern  corner  of  the  fort,  two  cremations  are  also  mentioned,  but  these 
were  ‘found  elsewhere’  (Clark  1935,  104;  Robinson  1978,  27,  no.  88).  A further  cremation  was 
found  towards  the  river  south  of  the  1968-70  excavations  (Robinson  1978,  28,  no.  122)  and  an 
isolated  inhumation  is  recorded  from  the  area  of  the  railway  line  to  the  east  (Robinson  1978, 
28,  no.  126).  The  1968-70  excavations  produced  two  burials:  an  infant  burial  cut  into  a floor 
of  Building  I and  probably  post-dating  AD  378  (Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  28);  the  second 



an  adult,  which  probably  post-dated  AD  250,  cut  into  the  floor  of  Room  3 of  Building  III 
(Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  24).  In  addition  there  are  various  references  to  cremation  and 
inhumation  burials  and  ‘urns’  in  antiquarian  sources.  Although  the  latter  lack  any  indication 
of  associated  bone  it  is  possible  that  some  at  least  of  them,  along  with  some  of  those  referred  to 
above  from  near  the  porta  decumana. , may  represent  cremations. 

Across  the  river  there  are  a number  of  areas  in  Norton  that  have  produced  Roman-period 
burials.  Two  inhumations  were  cut  into  the  area  of  the  kilns  excavated  by  Hayes  and  Whitley 
on  Howe  Road  (Hayes  and  Whitley  1950, 11),  with  a further  inhumation  recorded  some  45  m 
south-west  and  a skull  reported  from  The  Grove  (Robinson  1978,  39,  nos.  352,  353).  In  the 
Wold  Street/Langton  Road  area  a variety  of  finds  of  inhumations,  cremations  and  a tombstone 
(RIB  715)  indicate  an  extensive  cemetery  extending  for  over  500  m (Robinson  1978,  35-37, 
nos.  270,  271,  306-10,  316).  Similarly  in  the  Wood  Street/Beverley  Road  area  various  finds  of 
inhumations  and  cremations  suggest  another  extensive  cemetery  (Robinson  1978,  36-39,  nos. 

275, 276,  278,  279,  285-88).  Inhumation  and  cremation  burials  have  been  found  either  side  of 
Commercial  Street  over  a distance  of  some  200  m (Robinson  1978,  35,  nos.  245,  248-251), 
with  three  or  four  additional  adult  skeletons  being  found  in  1981  near  the  junction  with  Wold 
Street.  Some  60  inhumation  burials  and  an  unknown  number  of  cremations  of  second-  to  mid 
fourth-century  date  are  known  from  a probable  enclosed  cemetery  east  of  Langton  Road.  The 
evidence  from  this  cemetery  is  primarily  derived  from  three  discoveries: 

An  excavation  at  98  Langton  Road  by  the  Scarborough  and  District  Archaeological 
Society  in  1953  which  produced  26  inhumations  and  four  or  five  cremations  (Robinson  1978, 
39,  no.  354;  Hayes  1988,  77-80); 

A group  of  burials  discovered  in  a neighbouring  garden  in  1960  (Hayes  1988,  77- 
80),  and 

• An  apparently  enclosed  cemetery  partially  excavated  in  1966-7  at  The  Ridings,  Langton 
Road,  less  than  100  m from  the  1953  discoveries.  This  work  produced  some  33  burials, 
including  at  least  seven  cremations  (Robinson  1978,  39,  no.  355). 


The  fort  at  Malton  and  the  possible  Iron  Age  settlement  that  preceded  it  (Robinson  1978, 4; 
Wenham  1974, 6;  Wenham  and  Heywood  1997, 1 ) appear  to  have  shared  a common  reason  for 
their  siting  - the  crossing  point  of  the  River  Derwent,  which  in  the  Roman  period  made  the  site 
a major  route  focus  (see  below).  However  it  should  be  pointed-out  that  the  evidence  for  Later 
Iron  Age  occupation  is  less  clear-cut  than  was  suggested  by  Wenham,  as  much  of  the  material 
that  his  summary  suggested  derived  from  a burnt  surface  representing  Roman  military  clear- 
ance of  the  site  (Wenham  1974,  6-7),  was  in  fact  from  later  contexts  (Wenham  and  Heywood 
1997, 19,  31, 37).  Equally  it  is  possible  that  a number  of  the  ‘Iron  Age  tradition’  artefacts  from 
the  site  may  be  Roman  in  date,  for  example  the  weaving  combs  from  Hadrianic/Antonine 
contexts  (Wenham  and  Heywood  1997,  144-45).  Examination  of  the  Roman  road  system 
(Margary  1973,  map  17)  shows  the  importance  of  the  Derwent  crossing  at  Malton  as  a route 
focus.  The  next  major  crossing  to  the  east  is  on  Roman  road  M817  near  Sherburn,  some  17.5 
km  upstream,  and  to  the  south-west  crossings  on  roads  M80a  and  M2e  lie  beyond  the  Kirkham 
Gorge,  at  Stamford  Bridge  and  near  Kexby  at  distances  of  c.  17  km  and  c.  21  km  respectively. 



Effectively  this  means  that  Malton  controls  the  western  side  of  the  Vale  of  Pickering  and  is  well 
placed  to  dominate  much  of  the  Wolds  and  Howardian  Hills.  In  terms  of  Roman  military 
deployment  this  position  is  crucial,  the  fort  is  the  only  one  east  of  York  to  be  occupied  for  the 
bulk  of  the  Roman  period  and  controls  the  eastern  approaches  to  York.  Once  the  initial 
conquest  of  the  area  was  complete  it  would  presumably  have  provided  a base  for  ‘patrol  and 
control’  for  areas  ranging  from  the  Wolds  into  the  North  York  Moors. 

Fort  size  cannot  be  regarded  as  a reliable  guarantee  of  garrison  type,  given  the  evidence  for: 
over-garrisoning  on  Hadrian’s  Wall  (Frere  1987,  167),  units  and  part-units  being  brigaded 
together  (Hassall  1998)  and  the  potential  use  of  areas  within  forts  for  ‘non-standard  activities’, 
for  example  the  gyrus  at  The  Lunt,  Baginton  (Hobley  1973),  the  supply  base  at  South  Shields 
(Dore  and  Gillam  1979, 41-54, 61-66;  Bidwell  and  Speak  1994,  20-32),  or  Wenham’s  suggestion 
of  Malton  as  a centre  for  the  collection  of  the  annona  (Wenham  1974,  14).  However,  Frere 
(1987,  188)  notes  that  ‘the  annona  ...  was  a feature  only  of  the  late  empire’  and  therefore,  if 
relevant,  could  only  be  used  to  explain  developments  later  in  the  site’s  history.  In  the  light  of 
this  a mixed  garrison  or  a specialist  function  for  the  fort  might  be  suggested.  Although  with 
respect  to  the  latter  no  published  or  unpublished  data  provide  evidence  for  any  specialist 
activity  comparable  with,  for  example,  the  leather-working  attested  at  Catterick  (Hooley  2002). 
However,  it  should  be  stressed  that  many  specialist  activities,  whether  or  not  they  were  directly 
in  the  hands  of  the  military,  could  have  been  undertaken  outside  the  defences  of  the  fort 
(Sommer  1984, 4).  They  could  be  located  in  an  annexe  where  one  existed,  as  in  the  case  of  the 
extensive  metal-working  at  Newstead,  or  in  the  vicus.  That  having  been  said,  and  accepting  the 
cautions  noted  above,  the  size  of  the  Trajanic  and  later  fort,  at  some  3.4ha,  is  well  within  the 
size  range  suggested  byjohnson  (1983,  293  - 1.9-4ha)  and  Bennett  (1986,  fig.  2 - c.  2.3-4.5ha) 

for  an  ala  quingenaria  (unit  of  auxiliary  cavalry  512  strong).  Given  the  known  presence  of  the 
Ala  Picentiana,  coupled  with  the  lack  of  evidence  for  changes  to  the  size  of  the  fort  from  the 
Trajanic  period  at  least,  and  the  extent  of  the  area  over  which  the  garrison  might  have  had  to 
patrol,  a mounted,  or  part-mounted,  garrison  throughout  the  existence  of  the  fort,  might  be  a 
realistic  expectation.  However  as  discussed  elsewhere  (Wilson  1991),  it  seems  a improbable  to 
this  author  that  Malton  was  the  base  for  some  form  of  late-Roman  ‘rapid  deployment  force’ 
that  would  hasten  to  the  assistance  of  the  coastal  ‘signal  stations’  when  faced  with  attack,  as  was 
first  suggested  by  Corder  and  Kirk  (1928,  82)  and  has  been  accepted  by  various  more  recent 
authorities  (for  example  Ottaway  2000, 188-90).  Given  the  distances  and  topography  involved 
it  is  likely  that  any  raiders  would  have  been  long  gone  by  the  time  that  troops  from  Malton 

Wenham  (1974, 8)  suggested  that  Malton/Norton  served  as  one  of  four  pagus  centres  of  the 
Parisi.  However  we  have  no  evidence  relating  to  the  legal  status  of  Malton/Norton  civilian 
settlement  at  any  date,  and  with  respect  to  its  earlier  histoiy  the  term  wcusis  used  in  this  paper 
as  a convenient  shorthand,  with  the  acknowledgement  that  we  cannot  demonstrate  the  formal 
relationship  to  the  fort. 

The  discoveries  at  the  New  Rugby  Club  site  and  elsewhere  suggest  that  the  civilian  settle- 
ment on  the  north  bank  of  the  river  may  be  considerably  more  extensive  than  previously 
believed.  On  the  north-eastern  side  of  the  fort  possible  models  include: 

1.  Ribbon  development  towards  Old  Malton,  possibly  continuous  away  from  the  burials 



known  outside  the  porta  principalis  sinistra  and  perhaps  including  the  occupation  evidence 
noted  by  Robinson  east  of  the  railway  (Robinson  1978,  26  no.  80).  This  might  indicate  that  the 
finds  recorded  from  Old  Malton  may  relate,  not  to  a physically  separate  area  activity  or  occu- 
pation, but  form  part  of  a much  more  extensive  vicus  than  has  previously  been  assumed,  with 
occupation  extending  beyond  the  vicus/ annexe  defences  recorded  in  the  1968-70  excavations; 

2.  The  existence  of  a separate  area  of  civil  settlement  in  the  Old  Malton/New  Rugby  Club  area 
- presumably  any  such  settlement  would  have  been  closely  associated  with  the  vicus  and 
focused  on  the  road  from  the  north-east  gate  of  the  fort; 

3.  Given  the  limited  nature  of  the  investigations  on  the  New  Rugby  Club  site  and  the 
consequent  lack  of  detailed  understanding  of  the  buildings,  it  is  possible  that  they  could 
represent  a villa  complex  similar  to  those  known  in  close  proximity  to  other  Roman  towns,  for 
example  to  the  east  of  Kenchester  (Wilmott  and  Rahtz  1985). 

To  the  Old  Malton/New  Rugby  Club  evidence  should  be  added  the  newly  discovered  occu- 
pation areas  north-west  and  west  of  the  fort  in  the  Old  Maltongate  and  St  Leonard’s  areas. 

Thus,  on  the  Malton  side  of  the  river,  civilian  occupation  can  be  seen  to  extend  to  at  least 
lOha  (perhaps  12ha  if  Old  Malton  is  included)  and  possibly  more,  if  some  of  the  various  areas 
around  the  fort  were  linked,  rather  than  representing  a series  of  separate  foci,  and  if  ribbon 
development  did  extend  along  the  road  from  the  fort  to  Old  Malton.  However  continuous 
areas  of  occupation  cannot  be  assumed  with  certainty  as  it  appears  that  fourth-century  occu- 
pation did  not  extend  across  the  whole  area  defined  by  the  vicus  defences  (Wenham  and 
Heywood  1997,  37).  Equally  it  is  clear  that  not  all  of  the  recorded  occupation  would  have  been 
contemporary,  as  evidenced  by  the  apparent  lack  of  fourth-century  structures  at  the  New 
Rugby  Club,  nor  is  the  intensity  of  occupation  established  away  from  the  excavated  areas  in 
Orchard  Field  (Mitchelson  1964;  Wenham  and  Heywood  1997).  The  core  of  the  site  would 
appear  remain  the  Orchard  Field  area,  the  location  of  the  possible  fort  annexe,  defended  vicus, 
and  fourth-century  defences,  where  in  the  fourth  century  buildings  ‘clustered  close  to  the  two 
known  roads  leading ...  to  Norton’  (Wenham  and  Heywood  1997, 37).  Given  the  limitations  of 
the  evidence  it  is  even  more  difficult  to  suggest  the  extent  of  occupation  on  the  Norton  side  of 
the  river,  but  it  is  clear  that  domestic  occupation  extends  over  at  least  lOha.  However  again 
there  is  a need  to  be  cautious  with  regard  to  both  the  intensity  of  occupation  and  the  contem- 
poraneity of  occupation  in  different  areas,  a caution  emphasised  by  the  apparent  intermin- 
gling of  industrial  activity  and  occupation  and  the  presence  of  burials  between  or  within  the 
settlement  areas. 

Despite  the  advances  in  our  knowledge  we  do  not  have  the  evidence  to  reconstruct  in  detail 
the  origins  of  the  Malton/Norton  civil  settlements.  Many  of  the  population  were  probably 
incomers  given  the  apparently  exclusive  use  of  intrusive  rectilinear  building  types,  although 
that  could  in  part  represent  the  influence  of  the  military.  Equally  the  internal  morphology  of 
the  civilian  settlement,  away  from  the  excavated  sites  in  Orchard  Field,  is  far  from  clear.  The 
impression  from  the  location  of  antiquarian  and  other  reported  discoveries  and  the  more 
extensive  work  at  Malton  New  Rugby  Club  is  of  ribbon  development  along  the  roads  outside 
each  of  the  gates  of  the  fort.  Similarly  most  of  the  discoveries  on  the  Norton  side  of  the  river 
appear  to  focus  on  the  lines  of  the  roads  extending  from  the  river  crossing.  However  the  nature 



and  scale  of  investigations  precludes  any  further  refinement  of  what  is  in  effect  ‘an  impression’. 
That  having  been  said  the  occupation  recorded  in  the  area  of  The  Grove  rather  seems  to  buck 
this  trend,  but  this  may  reflect  an  association  with  the  pottery  manufacturing  activity  in  the  area. 

The  apparent  extension  of  occupation  areas  and  the  level  and  variety  of  economic  activity 
in  the  third  if  not  the  later  second  century  indicates  that  Malton/Norton  was  a ‘successful’ 
settlement  and  this  author  would  argue  that  by  this  time  it  can  probably  be  regarded  as  ‘urban’ 
in  function  at  least,  despite  the  lack  of  evidence  for  its  legal  status.  It  appears  as  the  focus  for  a 
group  of  six  or  seven  higher  status  sites  evidenced  by  mosaics:  Beadlam  (Neal  1996;  Neal  and 
Cosh  2002,  322-23);  Hovingham  (Neal  and  Cosh  2002,  341),  Langton  villa  (Corder  and  Kirk 
1932;  Neal  and  Cosh  2002, 343),  Langton,  Middle  Farm  (Corder  and  Kirk  1932,  15-6;  Neal  and 
Cosh  2002,  342)  Musley  Bank  (Kitson  Clark  1935,  111;  Neal  and  Cosh  2002,  347), 
Roughborough  (Kitson  Clark  1935,  111;  Neal  and  Cosh  2002,  350),  and  Wharram  le  Street 
(Rahtz  and  Bateman  1986;  Neal  and  Cosh  2002,  367).  These  sites  are  in  most  cases  likely  to  be 
villas,  although  some  are  poorly  understood.  To  these  can  be  added  other  high  status  sites 
including  the  recently  discovered  site  at  Blansby  Park,  Pickering  (Watts  etal 2003),  Wharram 
Grange  (Hayfield  1986)  and  possibly  Wharram  Percy,  North  Manor  (Rahtz  and  Watts  2004, 
283-4).  Again  these  sites  are  perhaps  best  regarded  as  villas,  but  as  is  the  case  with  many  of  the 
sites  much  of  our  knowledge  derives  from  early  records,  or  small  scale  excavations,  and  there- 
fore in  some  cases  other  interpretations  may  be  possible.  The  site  at  Wharram  le  Street  is  a 
case  in  point.  Its  location  at  the  head  of  the  Gypsey  Race  stream  has  led  to  suggestions  that  it 
might  be  a religious  complex  (David  1986,  chapter  9.6;  Rahtz  and  Bateman  1986,  chapter  13). 
Whatever  the  character  of  these  sites  they  demonstrate  the  existence  of  an  economy  with 
access  to  significant  surplus  resources  and  Malton/Norton  appears  ideally  placed  to  act  as  a 
market  centre  both  for  the  products  of  agricultural  estates  and  for  the  provision  of  goods  and 
resources,  such  as  specialist  craftsmen,  that  would  be  essential  to  the  creation  and  mainte- 
nance of  what  can,  at  a regional  level,  be  seen  in  traditional  terms  as  ‘Romanised’,  or  as 
representative  of ‘becoming  Roman’  (Woolf  1998). 

By  the  fourth  century  the  success  of  Malton/Norton  manifests  itself  through  obvious  pros- 
perity, as  demonstrated  by  the  Town  House,  its  mosaic  and  the  wall  paintings,  the  latter  being 
described  as  ‘of  some  pretension’  by  Martin  Henig  (2006,  catalogue  no.  1 29).  Henig  questions 
the  function  of  the  building  stating  that  it  ‘doubtless  had  an  official  function  of  some  sort’ 
(Henig  2006,  catalogue  no.  132).  While  he  may  be  correct,  it  appears  more  probable  to  this 
author  that  the  Town  House  is  exactly  that,  a dwelling  of  some  pretension  appropriate  in 
character  and  form  to  the  core  of  the  developing  urban  centre.  What  is  less  clear  is  the  relation- 
ship of  the  different  components  of  the  settlement.  At  least  in  the  first  and  second  centuries  it 
is  tempting  to  see  the  area  of  occupation  in  Orchard  Field,  south-east  of  the  fort,  as  represent- 
ing a vicus  established  under  close  military  control  and  its  development  encouraged  by  the 
military.  However,  is  the  same  true  of  occupation  elsewhere  around  the  fort  and  particularly  on 
the  Norton  side  of  the  river,  or  at  the  New  Rugby  Club  site  some  0.5km  north-east  of  the  fort? 
Alternatively  were  these  latter  areas  of  occupation  under  less  close  military  supervision  than 
those  in  the  shadow  of  the  fort?  That  the  military  would  have  had  a hand  in  the  running  of 
settlements  associated  with  forts,  at  least  to  begin  with,  is  a commonplace,  although  how  long 
this  would  have  lasted,  or  how  far  direct  military  control  would  have  extended  is  uncertain. 
Indeed  the  possibility  of  multi-focal  occupation  in  the  vicinity  of  the  fort  raises  the  possibility 



of  some  distinction  in  the  civilian  population  on  the  lines  suggested  by  Sommer  on  the  basis  of 
proximity  to  a fort  (Sommer  1984,  17).  In  the  case  of  Malton  we  might  be  seeing  Sommer’s 
‘military  civilians’  outside  the  porta praetoria. , in  what  can  later  be  regarded  as  the  core  of  the 
civilian  settlement  based  on  our  current  knowledge,  and  his  ‘civil  civilians’  establishing  them- 
selves in  other  locations  on  the  roads  leading  to  the  other  gates  and  on  the  Norton  side  of  the 
river.  It  is  known  that  territorial  areas  directly  controlled  or  even  owned  by  the  military  (see 
Sommer  (1984,  13-14)  for  a summary  discussion),  existed  in  association  with  auxiliary  forts,  as 
evidenced  by  the  building  inscription  from  Chester-le-Street  dated  to  AD  216  that  refers  to  the 
...i\errito\  [ rium ...  of  a cavalry  regiment  ( RIB  1049).  However  we  have  no  idea  how  extensive 
territoria  would  have  been,  how  they  might  manifest  themselves  in  the  archaeological  record 
in  the  absence  of  inscriptions,  or  how  they  would  impact  on  the  development  of  civilian 
settlement,  if  at  all. 

Malton/Norton  functioned  as  a regional  centre  for  pottery  production  (see  below)  and 
presumably  as,  as  suggested  above,  a market  centre  for  other  types  of  goods  and  services.  The 
goldsmith’s  shop  inscription  indicates  a range  of  economic  activity,  coupled  with  a reasonable 
level  of  disposable  income  on  the  part  of  some  in  the  population  of  the  town  and  surrounding 
area.  This  might  also  suggest  that  once  established  the  civilian  settlement  at  Malton/Norton 
may  have  developed  an  economic  life  that  did  not  depend  entirely  on  the  fort  and  its  garrison. 
Although  it  is  likely  that  Wenham  was  right  in  suggesting  that: 

‘Traders,  shopkeepers,  entertainers  and  a variety  of  other  folks  - of  both  sexes  - were  attracted  by 
these  troops  and  their  pay  packets’  (Wenham  1974,  35), 

and  presumably  the  fort  would  have  continued  to  have  had  a significant  effect  on  the  settle- 
ment and  its  economy.  However  the  existence  of  the  pottery  industry,  and  in  particular  the 
distribution  pattern  for  Crambeck  Ware  which  sees  it  in  quantity  on  Hadrian’s  Wall  and 
elsewhere  in  the  north  (Evans  1989,  68-74),  suggests  that  the  Malton/Norton  area  was  part  of 
a considerable  and,  probably  sophisticated,  distribution  network.  The  Crambeck  kilns  are 
located  7km  south-west  of  the  Derwent  crossing  at  Malton/Norton,  with  outlying  kilns  at 
Crambe  1.5km  to  the  south.  Given  that  the  material  was  high  volume/low  value  it  appears 
reasonable  to  assume  that  much  of  the  pottery  might  be  moved  using  the  river  system  through 
York.  Although  the  main  kiln  group  is  located  above  the  Kirkham  Gorge,  where  the  river  cuts 
through  the  Howardian  Hills,  the  kilns  are  well-placed  for  access  to  the  river  to  the  north,  or 
more  likely  the  south  of  the  gorge.  This  might  put  any  loading  point  10km  from  Malton/ 
Norton.  However  Evans  has  argued  that  significant  use  was  made  of  road  transport  for  distri- 
bution into  the  North-West  over  distances  of  up  to  180  km  (Evans  2000,  40).  He  has  further 
suggested  that  Crambeck’s  success  may  in  part  relate  to  it  being  located  near  the  edge  of  the 
‘predicted  market  areas  of  Malton,  York  and  Shiptonthorpe’  (Evans  1989,  80,  fig.  5),  thereby 
giving  it  access  to  a range  of  markets.  Clearly  both  of  these  views  may  be  valid,  but  given  the 
accumulating  evidence  any  predicted  market  model  ought  to  perhaps  now  also  take  account  of 
Stamford  Bridge,  given  the  expanding  evidence  for  the  site  cited  above.  Whatever  the  value  of 
the  ‘market  areas’  concept  it  seems  probable  that  the  pottery  industry  contributed  to  the  local 
economy  on  a significant  scale  and  that  Malton/Norton  would  be  the  market  centre  to  benefit 
most,  possibly  with  some  accruing  to  Stamford  Bridge  by  virtue  of  its  downstream  location, 
even  if  much  of  the  pottery  was  being  purchased  through  some  form  of  military  contract  in  the 
later  fourth  century  (Evans  1989,  77-78;  2000,  40). 



The  survival  of  the  Malton/Norton  civilian  settlement  into  the  late  fourth  century  provides 
a contrast  with  the  vie  ion  and  behind  Hadrian’s  Wall.  On  the  Wall  and  in  Cumbria,  Northum- 
berland and  County  Durham,  civilian  sites  were  often  abandoned  before  the  forts  with  which 
they  were  associated.  At  Vindolanda  this  happened  by  perhaps  AD  270  and  at  Brough  by 
Sands  by  early  in  the  fourth  century  (Snape  1991,  468).  The  pattern  of  early  decline  or  aban- 
donment of  via  is  seen  away  from  Hadrian’s  Wall  at  Old  Penrith  - ‘around  the  third  quarter  of 
the  third  century’  (Austen  1991, 227)  and  at  Chester-le-Street  - by  the  mid  fourth  century  at  the 
latest  (Dr.J.  Evans  pers  comm).  In  Yorkshire  at  Castleford  ‘the  bulk  of  the  population  appear 
to  have  abandoned  the  vicus  in  the  mid  to  late  2nd  century’  (Abramson  et  al  1999,  151), 
although  some  kind  of  occupation  was  recognised  for  part  of  the  third  century  in  trench  10 
(Abramson  et  al  1999,  304).  This  contrast  would  seem  to  support  the  suggestion  that  the 
civilian  site  at  Malton/Norton  had  a vitality  of  its  own  and  at  least  in  part  was  not  dependent  on 
the  military  component  of  the  site  and  would  suggest  that  Catterick  might  be  seen  as  a reason- 
able parallel  - a site  with  a continuing  military  presence,  but  also  with  a vigorous  civilian 
component  (Wilson  2002a;  2002b).  In  the  case  of  both  Malton/Norton  and  Catterick  the  level 
of  interaction  with  the  surrounding  area  must  have  been  significantly  higher  than  that  seen  on 
the  northern  frontier,  where  it  is  possible  to  argue  that  the  links  between  the  northern  vici and 
the  local  population  were  tenuous  given  the  limited  penetration  of  Romanised  material  culture 
into  the  countryside,  particularly  in  Cumbria.  With  respect  to  Malton  the  presence  of  high 
status  settlements  in  the  surrounding  area  has  been  noted  above,  but  lesser  rectilinear  build- 
ings are  also  known  on  smaller-scale  sites,  such  as  Brough  Hill  Settrington  - a rectilinear 
building  of  several  rooms  (Ramm  1978,  76-7)  and  Old  Pasture,  Spaunton  - a fourth-century 
aisled  building  (Whitaker  1967).  Equally  the  presence  of  Crambeck  pottery  on  many  minor 
sites  in  the  East  Yorkshire  countryside  points  to  the  existence  of  significant  local  trade,  and 
again  Malton/Norton  is  the  obvious  market  centre  for  much  of  the  area. 

In  attempting  to  understand  the  local  economy  it  is  not  entirely  clear  to  what  extent  the 
development  of  the  Norton  pottery  industry,  the  most  extensive  commercial  activity  within 
the  settlement,  represents  anything  more  than  a response  to  local  demand.  It  appears  primarily 
to  have  served  the  Malton/Norton  area,  but  was  strong  enough  to  have  monopolised  ‘greyware 
supply  at  and  through  Malton’  in  the  third  century  (Evans  2000,  40),  even  in  the  face  of  the 
developing  Crambeck  industry  that  was  to  dominate  potteiy  supply  across  the  north  of  Eng- 
land during  the  fourth  century.  Norton  products  are  known  from  Brough-on-Humber  in  the 
third  century,  Castleford  in  the  early  fourth  century,  and  scattered  examples  of  probable 
Norton  sherds  are  known  from  sites  in  north-east  England,  including  for  example  Vindolanda, 
Carrawburgh  and  South  Shields,  with  occasional  examples  from  other  sites  along  Dere  Street 
to  the  south  of  Hadrian’s  Wall  (Evans  1988,  326).  Its  location  would  have  given  the  Norton 
industiy  some  advantages  including  direct  access  to  the  market  represented  by  Malton/Norton 
and  the  local  road  network  focused  on  the  river  crossing,  along  with  the  potential  to  exploit 
river  transport.  However  its  suburban  location  may  possibly  have  been  in  some  ways  a handi- 
cap, and  in  particular  may  have  required  fuel  and  possibly  clay  to  have  been  brought  in  from 
some  distance,  unless  the  local  landscape  incorporated  managed  woodland  and  clay  pits. 

The  Roman  period  cemetery  evidence  from  Malton/Norton  is  limited;  we  lack  a large  body 
of  data  derived  from  a single  excavation,  and  most  of  the  large  number  of  inhumations  and 
cremations  known  are  recorded  in  antiquarian,  or  other  non-archaeological  sources.  A degree 



of  uncertainty  is  generated  by  the  antiquarian  sources  due  to  the  imprecise  nature  of  the 
terminology  used,  and  in  particular  by  references  to  ‘urns’.  The  term  ‘urn(s)’  could  imply  that 
the  pot(s)  was/were  more-or-less  complete  and  the  most  probable  sources  of  complete  pots  are 
burials,  either  to  hold  cremations,  or  as  grave  goods  in  inhumations.  However,  unless  the 
reference  incorporates  mention  of  skeletal  material  it  is  perhaps  safe  to  assume  that  inhuma- 
tions are  not  indicated  in  these  cases,  and  cremations  may  be  expected. 

The  distribution  of  recorded  Roman  period  cemetery  evidence  in  Malton  appears  broadly 
to  conform  to  the  expected  model  of  burial  sited  alongside  roads.  Burials  are  known  outside 
the  north-east  and  north-west  gates  of  the  fort,  and  perhaps  also  the  south-west  gate.  However 
bones  recorded  from  St  Leonard’s  churchyard  in  1650  may  not  have  been  Roman  in  date 
(Robinson  1978,  31,  no.  172),  although  an  ‘urn’  from  the  area  could  well  have  been  (Robinson 
1978,  26,  no.  79).  These,  along  with  the  burials  from  near  the  river  and  southern  corner  of  the 
fort,  might  be  taken  to  suggest  that  the  cemeteries  were  established  in  areas  where  the  develop- 
ment of  occupation  areas  was  not  expected.  An  alternative  view,  that  so  far  we  have  only  seen 
later  Roman  burials  and  that  occupation  had  contracted  by  the  time  most  of  the  known  burials 
were  made,  seems  improbable  to  this  writer,  particularly  given  the  evidence  for  cremation, 
which  is  generally  believed  to  be  the  earlier  rite  (but  see  below). 

The  distribution  of  burials  could  suggest  that  the  development  of  the  civilian  component  of 
Malton  was  planned,  with  settlement  zoned  in  the  area  south-west  of,  and  later  over,  the 
defended  annexes,  but  not  anticipated  elsewhere,  given  the  legal  requirement  to  separate 
burial  from  occupation.  However  there  are  a number  of  difficulties  with  this  suggestion.  It 
appears  that  when  the  railway  was  constructed  burials  may  have  been  found  along  much  of  its 
length  between  the  north-east  gate  of  the  fort  and  the  river,  suggesting  an  extensive  cemetery 
zone  away  from  the  known  road  that  extends  towards  the  New  Rugby  Club  site  and  Old 
Malton  (Robinson  1978,  26,  no.  79).  Equally  the  occupation  in  those  areas,  and  particularly  at 
the  New  Rugby  Club  site,  as  well  as  along  Old  Maltongate  and  in  the  Sheepfoot  Hill  area 
suggests  that  the  initial  expectations  of  the  settlement  were  exceeded  and  settlement  extended 
over  or  around  cemetery  areas.  Does  this  mean  that  the  cemeteries  so  affected  had  gone  out  of 
use  by  the  time  the  occupation  areas  expanded,  or  did  they  survive  in  islands  within  it?  As  the 
limited  evidence  that  we  have  suggests  that  we  have  mixed-rite  cemeteries,  the  latter  seems 
more  likely.  We  know  that  cremation  burial  did  extend  into  the  fourth  century  in  the  north,  for 
example  Brough-under-Stainmore  (M.  Jones  1977)  and  Birdoswald,  and  also  in  other  parts  of 
the  country,  for  example  at  Lankhills,  Winchester  (Clarke  1979,  128-30),  and  Kelvedon  Site  J 
(Philpott  1991,  table  8).  Despite  this  inhumation  can  be  accepted  as  generally  the  later  of  the 
two  rites  and  the  existence  of  mixed  cemeteries  suggests  that  that  they  were  in  use  for  some 
considerable  time.  Equally  in  discussing  discoveries  outside  the  north-east  gate  of  the  fort, 
particularly  a possible  gypsum  burial  and  at  a higher  level  ‘two  cineraiy  urns  of  calcite  gritted 
ware’,  Corder  (1930,  26)  concluded  that  they  must  have  all  belonged  ‘to  a late  period  of 
occupation’.  If  there  were  something  of  a breakdown  in  observance  of  the  law  that  forbade  the 
intermingling  of  occupation  and  burial  Malton/Norton  would  not  be  unique,  as  a similar 
occurrence  has  been  suggested  for  York  (R.  F.  J.  Jones  1984,  40). 

The  burials  recorded  in  Norton  can  be  divided  into  two  main  groups,  or  cemetery  areas. 
One  apparently  focused  on  the  junction  of  the  known  Roman  roads  to  Settrington  (Margary 
1973,  no.  812)  and  North  Grimston  (Margary  1973,  no.  813),  taking  in  those  burials  known 



from  the  Wood  Street/Beverley  Road  and  Commercial  Road  areas  and  the  other  on  the  line  of 
the  modern  Langton  Road.  Langton  Road  appears  likely  to  be  on  the  line  of  a Roman  road, 
possibly  an  alternative  route  to  Brough-on-Humber  that  could  have  joined  road  Margary  29 
(Margary  1973,  419-20)  some  10-12  km  south-east  of  the  latter’s  junction  with  the  York  to 
Malton  road  (Margary  1973,  no.  81a).  This  second  cemetery  could  possibly  incorporate  the 
burials  in  the  Howe  Road/The  Grove  area.  Again  there  appears  to  be  a mixing  of  cremations 
and  inhumations  within  the  cemeteries.  In  the  Settrington/North  Grimston  roads  area  there 
are  few  details  about  the  discoveries  north  of  the  road,  but  it  is  clear  from  nineteenth-century 
references  that  there  was  a substantial  concentration  of  burials  of  both  rites  here.  To  the  south 
of  the  road  the  balance  appears  to  be  towards  inhumation  burials,  but  the  references  are  brief 
and  the  fullest  of  them  does  include  cremation  material.  The  sources  for  the  area  to  the  north 
of  the  road  are  similar  and  it  is  probable  therefore  that  the  quality  of  the  information  is  also 
similar.  The  burials  in  this  area  have  been  recorded  over  an  area  c.  400  m by  300  m in  extent, 
suggesting  a major  cemetery,  but  it  must  be  noted  that  interspersed  amongst  the  burials  are 
many  discoveries  of  structural  material,  calling  into  question  the  extent  of  the  area  occupied 
by  the  cemetery,  and  the  relative  periods  of  use  of  the  area  for  burial  and  for  occupation. 

The  cemetery  area  centred  on  Langton  Road  extends  for  650  m south  from  the  junction 
with  Commercial  Road.  The  evidence  suggests  a mixing  of  rites  throughout  the  cemetery; 
again  with  evidence  for  Roman  period  structural  remains  within  the  area  of  the  ‘cemetery’. 
What  cannot  be  clear  from  the  record,  at  least  within  the  northern  part  of  the  distribution,  is 
if  we  are  dealing  with  a continuous  spread  of  cemetery  material  or  a series  of  discrete  areas, 
with  areas  of  occupation  between  them,  such  as  is  apparently  the  case  on  the  north-western 
side  of  York  (R.  E J.  Jones  1984,  fig.  1).  A hint  that  discrete  areas  might  have  existed  is 
provided  by  the  apparent  existence  of  an  enclosed  cemetery  at  the  Ridings  (Robinson  1978, 
39,  no.  355)  - compare  the  late  second-  to  late  fourth-/fifth-century  enclosed  cemetery  at 
Bainesse  near  Catterick  which  was  surrounded  by  occupation  areas  for  at  the  least  the  first 
150  years  of  its  use  (Wilson  2002a,  164-80).  That  having  been  said  it  is  probable  that  all 
cemetery  areas  were  delimited  in  some  way,  and  although  the  recognition  of  the  extent  of  the 
burial  area  is  of  interest,  it  is  perhaps  not  crucial  to  the  broad  understanding  of  mortuary 
practice  in  Malton/Norton.  The  significance  of  cemetery  boundaries  in  symbolic  and  social, 
or  perhaps  ethnographic  terms,  beyond  the  simple  separating  of  burial  from  other  activity,  or 
the  exclusion  of  animals  from  the  cemetery  area,  would  require  epigraphic  evidence  and/or 
possibly  extensive  scientific  analysis  of  burial  groups,  data  currently  only  available  from  a very 
limited  number  of  sites  in  Roman  Britain.  However  the  recent  Brougham  report  has  demon- 
strated the  potential  of  cemetery  assemblages  to  address  questions  relating  to  cultural  back- 
ground and  ethnicity  (Cool  2004,  464-66). 

The  Ridings/98  Langton  Road  enclosed  cemetery  is  the  only  area  of  burial  activity  that  is  in 

any  way  closely  dated  from  Malton/Norton.  Hayes  states  that  the  relative  dating  of  the  crema- 
tions and  inhumations  from  the  first  discovery  was  not  clear,  but  that  some  at  least  of  both 
cremations  and  inhumations  were  associated  with  Knapton  and  Norton  type  pottery  (Evans 
1988,  77-80),  which  suggests  that  the  two  rites  probably  overlapped,  even  if  they  were  not  both 
current  for  the  full  duration  of  the  use  of  the  cemetery.  The  pottery  suggests  that  the  period  of 
use  fell  within  the  third  and  perhaps  early  fourth  centuries.  In  discussing  the  ethnicity  of  those 
buried  in  the  Brougham  cemetery  McKinley  has  observed  that  ‘cremation  had  remained  pre- 



dominant  amongst  the  northern  Germanic  peoples,  particularly  in  the  Saxon  coastlands’ 
(McKinley  2004,  308).  Although  tenuous,  this  may  give  us  a hint  of  the  possible  origins  of  a 
significant  element  of  the  population  - it  maybe  that  the  later  third-/  fourth-century  garrison  of 
the  fort  (the  largest  potential  intrusive  group  in  the  settlement)  may  have  been  of  Germanic 
origin,  thereby  accounting  for  the  persistence  of  cremation,  and  perhaps  its  continued  use  or 
re-adoption  by  elements  of  the  local  population. 

There  are  two  objects  of  Germanic  type  from  Malton  that  might  support  this  suggestion. 
The  first  is  a brooch  - a Meyer  (1960)  series  I Biigelknopffibel  with  polyhedral  knobs  that 
probably  from  a burial  found  before  1866  (Robinson  1978,  40,  no  378;  Eagles  1979,  67,  fig. 
110)  and  the  second  a silver  propeller-shaped  belt  stiffener  ( Propellerformige  Verstarker)  found 
by  the  late  Tony  Pacitto  with  a metal  detector  during  the  New  Rugby  Club  project.  Eagles 
(1979, 67)  notes  that  Meyer  cites  dated  examples  of  Biigelknopffibeln  from  the  mid  third  to  the 
early  sixth  centuries  and  suggests  that  it  might  ‘have  belonged  to  a German  officer  in  the  late 
Roman  army,  while  Robinson  ( 1978,  40,  no  378)  suggests  a late  fourth-  or  fifth-century  date.  If 
there  was  a Germanic  garrison  from  the  later  third  century  as  suggested  above  it  is  possible 
that  the  Biigelknopffibel  need  not  be  late  as  Eagles  and  Robinson  suggest,  or  if  later  demon- 
strate that  later  generations  of  soldiers  retained  a taste  for  elements  of  an  ethnically  distinct 
material  culture.  However  ‘military  equipment’  such  belt  stiffeners  are  well  known  along  the 
northern  frontiers  of  he  Roman  Empire  and  the  types  of  belt  decorated  with  them  were 
probably  worn  by  Imperial  officials,  as  well  as  by  soldiers  and  may  not  relate  to  the  ethnic 
origin  of  the  wearer  and  the  same  caution  might  apply  to  the  Biigelknopffibel  and  therefore 
neither  object  need  necessarily  relate  to  the  ethnic  origins  of  garrison  or  the  cultural  prefer- 
ences of  the  inhabitants  of  Malton/Norton. 

Given  the  relatively  late  date  of  the  The  Ridings/98  Langton  Road  cemetery  it  appears  likely 
that  the  areas  used  for  burial  had  spread  south  along  the  line  of  the  Roman  road.  However,  in 
York  it  is  apparent  that  many  of  the  cemeteries  of  the  first  and  second  centuries  are  relatively 
remote  from  the  fortress  and  town.  This  can  possibly  be  explained  by  a desire  to  ensure  that 
the  cemeteries  remained  outside  the  occupied  area  of  the  site  as  it  developed,  the  later  cem- 
eteries, lying  closer  to  the  fortress  and  town,  representing  an  acknowledgement  of  the  failure 
of  occupation  to  expand  to  the  extent  initially  allowed  for  (R.  F.  J.  Jones  1984,  37).  In  Malton 
the  lack  of  dated  graves  from  the  areas  surrounding  the  fort  and  from  the  cemetery  areas  in 
Norton  closest  to  the  river  crossing  does  not  preclude  there  having  been  such  planning. 
However  the  existence  of  a relatively  late  cemetery  at  a considerable  distance  from  the  appar- 
ent focus  of  occupation  does  suggest  that  the  cemeteries  of  Malton/Norton  may  represent  a 
relatively  unstructured  development.  It  is  possible  to  envisage  a situation  where  ‘prime  sites’ 
on  the  approach  roads  were  in  relatively  short  supply  forcing  the  use  of  areas  further  and 
further  away  from  the  fort  and  core  of  the  civilian  settlement.  It  may  be  that  particular  loca- 
tions were  regarded  as  more  prestigious  than  others  and  in  the  case  of  Malton/Norton  it  might 
be  that  Langton  Road,  suggested  above  as  one  of  the  roads  to  Brough-on-Humber  and  the 
Humber  crossing,  held  this  status. 

The  discussion  of  the  burials  from  Norton  has  been  in  terms  of  two  cemeteries  and  it  would 
appear  clear  that  the  distribution  of  known  burials  does  coincide  with  the  Roman  roads  as 
suggested  above,  as  defined  the  two  areas  come  within  almost  100  m of  each  other  near  the 
assumed  junction  of  the  Roman  roads.  It  maybe  that  the  original  focus  of  burial  activity  was 



the  major  road  junction  on  the  southern  side  of  the  river  crossing  (the  area  of  the  modern 
Langton  Road/Wood  Street  junction),  although  we  should  note  the  Antonine  building  at  the 
north  end  of  Langton  Road  (above).  Accepting  that  the  record  is  necessarily  biased  by  the 
chance  nature  of  the  discoveries,  and  the  nature  of  much  of  the  recording,  it  may  be  that  this 
cemetery  area  respected  the  limits  of  the  main  area  of  occupation  around  the  river  crossing, 
although  some  evidence  of  occupation  is  known  from  both  cemeteries,  as  is  mentioned  above 
for  the  area  to  the  north  of  the  Settrington  Roman  road.  What  is  not  clear  is  the  status  of  this 
occupation.  Many  of  the  non-burial  discoveries  in  Norton  away  from  the  river  relate  to  the 
extensive  potteiy  industry  (see  above),  and  others  may  do.  Therefore  it  would  appear  that  the 
law  forbidding  burial  inside  settlements  may  not  have  applied,  or  was  not  applied  to  areas  of 
industrial  activity,  but  it  is  not  clear  how  far  industrial  activity  and  domestic  occupation  were 
separated  - for  example  the  possible  ‘industrial’  sites  recorded  in  Langton  Road  in  an  area  also 
containing  cemeteries  (Hayes  1988, 86-9).  What  we  may  be  seeing  in  Norton  is  a disregard  for 
the  law  away  from  the  main  part  of  the  vicus , a situation  paralleled  to  the  south  of  the  colonia 
at  York,  where  buildings  recorded  in  Clementhorpe  lay  between  apparently  contemporary 
cemetery  areas  at  Baile  Hill  and  in  Clementhorpe  (Brinklow  et  al  1986). 

Crouched,  or  otherwise  contracted  burials  were  a feature  of  the  enclosed  cemetery  on 
Langton  Road;  of  the  twenty-six  inhumations  reported  by  Hayes,  seven  (26.9%)  were  not  fully 
extended.  This,  coupled  with  antiquarian  references  to  at  least  six  crouched,  or  ‘doubled-up’ 
burials,  suggests  that  if  Radley  is  correct  and  crouched  burials  represent  the  local  pre-Roman 
burial  tradition  (Radley  1974, 13),  the  corpus  of  burials  from  Malton/Norton  may  demonstrate 
a greater  conservatism  in  rite  than  is  seen  in  York  where  Roman  period  crouched  burials  are 
not  common.  It  is  perhaps  significant  that  there  are  no  crouched  burials  dated  to  the  fourth 
century  from  Malton/Norton  (Philpott  1991,  57),  but  as  evidence  of  change  this  must  be 
treated  with  caution  given  the  lack  of  a substantial  excavated  cemetery.  Similarly  the  presence 
of  extended  inhumations  ‘with  more  romanised  furniture  and  treatment  of  the  body’  at  an 
earlier  date  in  Malton  than  in  Norton  (Philpott  1991,  57),  may  be  significant.  However  the 
limited  data  sets  preclude  an  over-reliance  on  the  evidence  currently  available,  although  in 
broad  terms  it  accords  with  the  apparent  conservatism  suggested  above. 


It  is  hoped  that  this  paper  has  shown  some  of  the  potential  inherent  in  the  data  that  we 
already  have  for  Malton/Norton,  and  also  some  of  its  weaknesses  and  lacunae.  That  having 
been  said  it  is  perhaps  possible  to  make  some  statements  regarding  Roman  Malton/Norton: 

• The  site  is  likely  to  be  the  Delgovicia  of  the  Antonine  Itinerary, 

• The  fort  was  occupied  for  most  Roman  period,  saving  a gap  in  occupation  in  the  Hadrianic/ 
Early  Antonine  period 

• In  the  Trajanic  period  the  fort  had  an  annexe,  or  was  associated  with  a defended  vicus, 

• The  garrison  was  an  ala  quingenaria,  the  Ala  Picentiana,  during  the  Antonine  period  (post 
c.  AD  158)  and  possibly  a Germanic  unit  later  in  the  history  of  the  site; 

• Over  the  life  of  the  settlement  civilian  occupation  extended  to  areas  occupying  at  least  20 
ha,  although  not  all  that  area  was  necessarily  in  contemporary  occupation; 

• The  core  of  the  civilian  settlement  was  in  Orchard  Field  outside  the  porta praetoria  and 



this  area  was  provided  with  new  defences  in  the  third  century; 

• Civilian  occupation  developed  outside  the  other  three  gates  of  the  fort; 

• In  the  case  of  area  outside  the  north-east  gate  the  occupation  took  the  form  of  ribbon 
development  extending  towards  Old  Malton; 

• On  the  Norton  side  of  the  river  there  were  extensive  areas  of  occupation  that  survived  the 
decline  of  the  pottery  industry  in  the  early  fourth  century. 

• Together  the  civilian  components  of  Malton/Norton  represent  an  extensive  and  by  the 
fourth  century,  at  least  in  the  Orchard  Field  area,  intensive  settlement  with  high  status  at- 

• Malton/Norton  probably  possessed  a diverse  economic  base  functioning  as  a local  market 
centre,  associated  with  the  Norton  and  Crambeck  pottery  industries,  as  well  as  supporting 
high-value  craft  activity,  as  evidenced  by  the  goldsmiths  shop,  as  well  as  serving  the  needs  of  the 
fort  garrison. 

• The  civilian  occupation  survives  to  the  end  of  the  Roman  period  and  into  the  fifth  century, 
albeit  apparently  concentrated  on  the  defended  core  of  the  settlement  and  later  within  the 
defensive  ditch  that  was  cut  across  the  Town  House  and  Kiln  Building, 

In  the  view  of  this  author  the  size  of  the  civilian  settlement,  combined  with  what  evidence  we 
have  for  its  economic  base  suggests  strongly  that  it  should  be  considered  a ‘small  town’ 
comparable  with  sites  such  as  Catterick,  and  not  simply  a vicus  primarily  dependant  on  the 
fort  garrison  for  its  survival  and/or  prosperity. 

In  trying  to  further  advance  our  understanding  the  sort  of  data-sets  that  derive  from  large- 
scale  modern  excavation  would  be  most  welcome.  However  in  their  absence  the  continued 
gradual  accrual  of  evidence  from  PPG  16-inspired  work  will  help  fill-out  the  picture,  but  only  if 
future  workers  are  willing  to  undertake  syntheses  of  the  type  attempted  here. 


I am  extremely  grateful  to  MAP  Archaeological  Consultancy  and  York  Archaeological  Trust  for 
access  to  their  archives  of  unpublished  reports.  Particular  thanks  are  due  to  Dr  Brenda  Heywood  for 
commenting  on  a (very)  draft  text  and  to  Mark  Stephens  for  information  on  the  Propellerformige 
Verstarker  from  the  New  Rugby  Club  site,  although  responsibility  for  any  errors  remains  mine  alone. 
The  paper  has  also  benefited  from  the  comments  of  anonymous  referees  for  whose  insights  and 
suggestions  I am  most  grateful.  The  figures  accompanying  this  paper  were  prepared  by  Vince  Griffin 
and  John  Vallender  of  the  English  Heritage  Graphics  Studio  (Portsmouth). 


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Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 




By  David  Bourne 

The  purpose  of  this  article  is  to  attempt  to  establish  that  the  village  settlement  ofFlaxton 
as  recorded  on  the  1911  edition  of  the  1/2500  scale  Ordnance  Survey  map  of  the  area  may 
represent  remarkably  faithfully  the  planned  single-row  settlement  as  it  existed  at  the  time  of 
the  Domesday  survey  in  1086,  with  the  plot  frontages  of  Domesday  still  largely  to  be  dis- 
cerned on  the  ground. 

There  are  four  distinct  stages  in  the  exercise:  (1)  The  number  of  oxgangs  or  bovates  in  the 
township  ofFlaxton  at  Domesday,  (2)  The  relationship  in  Flaxton  of  two  oxgangs  to  one 
tenement,  (3)  The  relationship  between  the  number  of  tenements  and  the  length  of  the 
frontage  and  (4)  The  sequence  of  events  and  their  dating.  The  end  result  is  rather  similar  to 
a four-storied  house  of  cards  - it  may  all  too  easily  be  demolished! 

In  the  event,  the  research  has  led  to  the  belief  that  the  planned  single-row  settlement 
already  existed  at  the  time  of  the  Conquest  in  1066. 


Flaxton  is  a compact,  near-rectangular  parish  in  North  Yorkshire  lying  about  15  kilometres 
(9  miles)  north-east  of  York  and  2 kilometres  (1.25  miles)  north-west  of  the  A. 64  road 
between  York  and  Scarborough.  The  parish  has  an  area  of  approximately  746  hectares 
(1,865  acres)  and  measures  approximately  4km  by  2km  (2.5  by  1.25  miles),  with  its  long  axis 
lying  north-east  to  south-west.  Flaxton  village  itself  is  in  the  middle  of  the  parish  and  is  laid 
out  very  largely  on  the  north-eastern  side  of  a long  Green.  The  parish  is  served  by  two 
principal  roads  in  the  shape  of  a ‘T’,  one  bisecting  the  parish  and  running  broadly  north- 
west to  south-east  from  Sheriff  Hutton  to  the  A.64  and  passing  through  the  Green;  the  other 
from  Strensall  and  York,  meeting  the  first  in  the  middle  of  the  village.  (See  Fig.  1) 

The  village  faces  south-west  and  lies  on  or  close  to  the  30m  contour.  Behind  the  village  the 
land  rises  gently  and  is  rolling  in  nature,  with  a high  point  of  42m  towards  the  north-eastern 
boundary  of  the  parish.  To  the  west  and  south-west  the  land  is  much  less  undulating  and  falls 
away  slowly  to  a stream,  the  boundary  with  Strensall  Common,  and  the  20m  contour. 

Much  broad  ridge-and-furrow  land  existed  until  the  1939-45  war  and  aerial  photographs 
of  the  parish,  taken  by  the  RAF  in  1946,  show  vestiges  of  this  extending  over  virtually  all  the 
land  from  south-east  of  the  village,  round  through  north  to  the  north-west.  Only  towards  the 
west  round  to  south  is  it  absent,  indicative  of  the  low-lying  and  wet  nature  of  the  soils  in  this 
area  before  post-enclosure  land  drainage.  The  presence  of  this  former  wetland  area  helps 
explain  the  earlier  name  of  the  township,  Flaxton  on  the  Moor.  Prior  to  enclosure  in  1658 
this  wetland  area,  which  represented  over  40  per  cent  of  the  area  of  the  township  excluding 
the  village  and  its  Green,  was  known  as  the  common  or  moor  ofFlaxton.  The  few  woodland 
areas  in  the  parish  are  all  post  enclosure  and  it  would  seem  that  prior  to  this  the  inhabitants 
must  have  obtained  all  their  wood  for  fuel  and  other  purposes  from  trees  growing  on  the 

common  or  moor. 






Until  1861  Flaxton  was  a township  in  the  parishes  of  Bossall  and  Foston,  with  three- 
quarters  lying  within  Bossall  and  the  remaining  quarter  within  Foston,  the  Foston  lands  in 
the  township  being  scattered  across  the  township  following  enclosure  in  1658,  and  the 
Foston  village  houses  being  grouped  in  the  middle  of  the  single-row  settlement. 


The  entries  in  Domesday  Book  for  Flaxton  are  extremely  brief,  lacking  valuations  and  any 
information  about  the  inhabitants.  According  to  Domesday  the  vill  or  township  of  Flaxton 
was  assessed  as  follows: 

The  king  2Vfe  carucates; 

The  archbishop  6 oxgangs  (3/4  of  a carucate); 

Count  Alan  1 V2  carucates  (as  a soke  of  Foston). 

In  addition  Hugh  son  of  Baldric  was  assessed  on  614  carucates  in  the  manor  of  Buttercrambe 
and  its  two  berewicks  of  Scrayingham  and  Flaxton,  no  allocation  between  the  three  elements 
being  given.  At  the  Conquest  in  1066,  the  king’s  lands  were  held  by  three  unnamed  thanes, 
while  the  archbishop  was  preceded  by  Ulfr,  count  Alan  by  earl  Morcar,  and  Hugh  by  Egelfride.1 

William  Farrer,  in  his  edition  of  the  Yorkshire  Domesday  text,  allocated,  in  brackets,  2 
oxgangs  of  the  614  carucates  in  the  manor  of  Buttercrambe  to  Flaxton,  but  did  not  give  his 
reasoning  for  so  doing.2  Later,  Sir  Charles  Clay,  when  listing  the  Domesday  holdings  of 
Hugh  son  of  Baldric  recovered  by  Robert  de  Stuteville  the  third  as  tenancies-in-chief,  used 
the  same  allocation,  but  had  stated  earlier  that  his  work  was  based  on  Farrer’s  manuscripts.3 
Subsequent  editors  of  the  Yorkshire  Domesday  text  have  not  attempted  an  allocation.  If 
Farrer  and  Clay  are  correct,  and  on  the  basis  of  8 bovates,  or  oxgangs,  to  one  carucate,  the 
overall  assessment  for  Flaxton  becomes  5 carucates  or  40  oxgangs. 

It  has  been  argued  by  the  author  in  an  earlier  article  that  at  Domesday  Flaxton  was 
assessed  at  6 carucates  or  48  oxgangs,  and  not  as  implied  by  Farrer  and  Clay.4  The  justification 
given  for  the  increase  from  5 to  6 carucates  was  evidence  indicating  that  Hugh’s  holding  in 
Flaxton  was  probably  10  and  not  2 oxgangs.  Most  of  Hugh’s  holdings  in  Yorkshire  at  the 
time  of  Domesday  came  into  the  hands  of  Robert  de  Stuteville  and  then  descended  down  the 
de  Stuteville  line  to  Joan  de  Stuteville  who  married  for  her  first  husband,  Hugh  Wake.  Her 
heir  was  their  son  Baldwyn  Wake  who  died  in  1282.  The  inquisition  post  mortem  which 
followed  his  death  included  among  his  properties  the  manor  of  Buttercrambe  and,  on  the 
dorse,  a record  of  the  knights’  fees  pertaining  to  the  manor.  Among  them  was  the  entry 
‘Richard  de  Dunstapel  holds  the  tenth  part  of  one  fee  in  Flaxton’.5  The  inquisition  post 
mortem  of  1349  of  Thomas  Wake,  grandson  of  Baldwyn,  extended  the  phrasing  to  ‘Peter  de 

1 M.  Faull  and  M.  Stinson,  eds,  Domesday  Book:  Yorkshire , (1986),  pp.300d,  303b,  313b  & 381a; 
also  p.328a  for  Hugh  son  of  Baldric. 

2 William  Page,  ed.,  Victoria  County  History  of  the  County  of  York  vol.2,  (London,  1912)  hereafter 
VCH\,  p.276. 

3 C.  T.  Clay,  ed.,  Early  Yorkshire  Charters , vol.9,  (1952),  p.74. 

4 D.  Bourne,  ‘Flaxton:  a Township  in  two  Parishes’,  YAJ ’ 74,  (2002),  55-167. 

5 The  National  Archives.  Kew  [hereafter  TNA],  C 133/31  m.4. 



Rithre  chaplain  and  John  de  Dunstaple  hold  certain  tenements  in  Flaxton  by  service  of 
l/10th  part  of  a knight’s  fee  worth  yearly  60s’.6  The  inquisition  post  mortem  of  1353  of 
John  earl  of  Kent,  nephew  of  Thomas,  included  ‘Peter  de  Rithre  and  John  de  Dunstaple  held 
of  the  aforesaid  count  at  the  day  he  died  those  tenements  in  Flaxton  for  the  service  of  1 / 10th 
of  a knight’s  fee  valued  per  annum  £3Y  Finally,  though  not  in  time,  a fine  of  1268,  by  which 
Patrick  de  Westewych  acquired  the  freehold  of  10  oxgangs  in  Flaxton,  paying  homage  to 
Robert  de  Neville,  specifically  equated  one-tenth  of  a knight’s  fee  with  10  oxgangs.8 

Recently,  further  evidence  has  been  discovered  relating  to  Richard  de  Dunstapel’s  holding 
in  Flaxton.  This  is  a deed  of  gift,  said  to  be  dated  before  1290,  by  Richard  de  Dunstapel  to 
Patrick  de  West  Wyc  of  ‘half  a carucate  of  land  excepting  his  tofts  at  Flaxton  the  other  half 
carucate  being  demised  to  Sir  John  Baudwyn  of  York  rendering  service  in  proportion  where 
10  carucates  make  the  forinsec  service  of  one  knight’s  fee’.9  It  should  be  noted  that  the  latter 
part  of  the  statement  is  contrary  to  the  statement  in  the  fine  of  1268  mentioned  above,  giving 
as  it  does  only  80  oxgangs  to  a knight’s  fee  as  opposed  to  100.  Further  variations  on  this 
theme  are  given  (1)  in  a list  of  knights’  fees  for  1302-3  which  states  that  in  Flaxton  there 
were  12  carucates  (96  oxgangs)  in  a knight’s  fee,10  and  (2)  in  Feudal  Aids  vol.  VI.  for  1346 
which  states  15  carucates  (120  oxgangs)  in  a fee;  though  in  this  last  case  eight  other  townships 
are  also  listed  before  the  statement  is  made  which  may  have  confused  the  issue.11  All-in-all  a 
certain  vagueness  seems  to  have  existed  on  the  matter.  Whatever  the  position  regarding  the 
number  of  oxgangs  or  carucates  to  a fee,  the  deed  of  gift  confirms  that  Richard  de  Dunstapel 
had  held  certainly  not  less  than  1 carucate  or  8 oxgangs  in  Flaxton  at  some  time  prior  to 

In  the  same  archive  as  the  above  deed  of  gift  are  two  deeds  of  1341  and  1349  to  which  a 
Peter  de  Rithra  was  a party,  which  related  to  unspecified  and  undifferentiated  property  in 
Flaxton  and  two  other  places.12  This  may  well  have  related  to  the  de  Dunstapel  holding 
mentioned  in  the  inquisitions  post  mortem  of  1349  and  1353  in  which  Rithra’s  name  was 
joined  with  that  of  John  de  Dunstaple. 

The  de  Dunstapel  family  is  first  encountered  in  Flaxton  as  early  as  1 226  in  a fine  between 
Richard  son  of  Richard  de  Dunstapel  and  Henry  prior  of  Marton  relating  to  one  oxgang  of 
land  in  the  township.13  In  1293  Robert  de  Dunstapel  was  occupier  of  a toft  and  croft  and  one 
oxgang  neighbouring  a property  being  conveyed.14  Members  of  the  family  were  assessed  in 
1301  and  again  in  1327  but  not,  as  it  happens,  in  1332. 15  The  inquisitions  post  mortem  of 
1353  mentioned  above  is  the  last  relevant  reference  to  the  family:  subsequent  inquisitions 
post  mortem  of  the  earls  of  Kent  and  their  wives,  widows  or  daughters  through  to  1426 

6 TNA,  C135/97  m.18. 

7 TNA,  C135/118  m.40. 

8 TNA,  CP25/1/265/50  no.38. 

9 West]  Yorkshire  Archive  Service,  Leeds  [hereafter  WYAS],  WYL639/141,  Weston  MSS, 

10  York  Minster  Archives  [hereafter  YMA],  L2(2)c.  f.  60. 

11  TNA,  Calendars,  Feudal  Aids,  6,  p.212. 

12  WYAS,  WYL639/187  and  WYL639/189. 

13  TNA,  CP25/1/262/21  no.191. 

14  YMA,  MS  XVI  A.l,  Cartulary  of  St  Mary’s  Abbey,  York,  f.170. 

15  W.  Brown,  ed.,  Yorkshire  Lay  Subsidies,  Yorkshire  Archaeological  Society  Record  Series,  21, 
(1897),  p.74;  TNA,  E179/211/6;  E179/211/7A. 



continue  to  mention  the  names  Rithra  and  de  Dunstable  but  always  in  the  context  of  their 
having  formerly  held  the  Flaxton  element  of  the  manor  of  Buttercrambe.16  Members  of  the 
de  Dunstapel  family  were  also  witnesses,  along  with  other  local  individuals,  to  some  of  the 
early  fourteenth-century  deeds  relating  to  the  Draft  Farm  tenement  mentioned  below.  It 
would  seem,  therefore,  that  the  family  lived  locally  and  quite  possibly  farmed  much  of  their 
land  themselves. 

All  of  the  above  is  written  with  the  intent  of  establishing  from  the  medieval  period  evidence 
that,  despite  Farrer  and  Clay,  Flaxton  was  probably  - though  not  necessarily  precisely  - 
assessed  at  6 carucates  or  48  oxgangs  at  Domesday.  But  what  is  the  evidence  from  later  times 
to  support  this  view? 

Strong  evidence  is  provided  by  recently  catalogued  copies,  dated  1808,  of  a small  group  of 
Flaxton-related  manuscripts,  formerly  in  the  possession  of  Dr  C.  S.  Orwin  of  Oxford 
University,  including  an  incomplete  but  contemporary  copy  of  the  enclosure  award  for 
Flaxton  of  1658.  It  is  clear  that  the  award  was  not  accompanied  by  an  award  map.  One  of  the 
other  manuscripts  indicates  that  Sir  Thomas  Norcliffe  of  Langton,  lord  of  the  manor  of 
Foston  and  therefore  of  the  Foston  quarter  of  Flaxton,  and  also  the  most  substantial  freeholder 
in  Flaxton  at  the  time,  was  the  moving  spirit  behind  the  decision  to  enclose.  Sir  Thomas, 
together  with  the  great  majority  of  the  other  freeholders,  small  and  large,  and  the  rector  of 
Foston  all  agreed  to  be  bound  in  the  sum  of  £ 100  each  to  abide  by  the  award  of  the  appointed 
commissioners.17  The  rector  of  Bossall,  the  dean  and  chapter  of  Durham,  being  suspended  at 
the  time  of  the  Protectorate,  was  not  involved. 

In  the  section  in  the  award  concerned  with  tithes  the  named  occupiers  of  l2lAi  oxgangs  in 
the  Foston  quarter  of  the  township  were  stated  as  due  to  pay  the  rector  of  Foston  2s.  6<Y  an 
oxgang  yearly  and  the  occupiers,  unnamed,  of  a further  37V&  oxgangs  were  due  to  pay 
likewise  to  the  vicar  of  Bossall,  confirming  a total  of  50  oxgangs  at  1658.  A terrier  of  1685  for 
Foston  church  stated  that  the  rector  of  Foston  was  entitled  to  ‘the  tith  of  12  oxgan  of  land  & 
the  fourth  part  of  the  tith  ...  of  2 oxgan  of  gleab  in  Flaxton  belonging  to  the  vicar  of  Bossall’, 
confirming  the  1272  oxgangs.18  Thus  the  extra  half  oxgang  in  Foston  and  the  extra  D/2 
oxgangs  in  Bossall  are  clearly  the  2 oxgangs  of  the  vicar  of  Bossall  and  account  for  the 
increase  from  the  anticipated  Domesday  total  of  48  oxgangs  to  the  overall  total  of  50  oxgangs. 
The  2 oxgangs  of  the  vicar  of  Bossall  presumably  existed  at  Domesday  but,  if  so,  he  was  not 
assessed  on  them  and  there  would  seem  to  be  no  way  of  discovering  whether  or  not  they  did 
in  fact  exist  at  that  time,  as  the  earliest  known  reference  to  the  vicar  having  lands  in  Flaxton 
is  in  archbishop  Gray’s  register  for  1228,  still  nearly  150  years  after  Domesday,  where  it  was 
stated  that  the  vicar  (a  William  de  Stuteville,  as  it  happens)  ‘shall  pay  no  tithe  for  the 
improvement  belonging  to  his  lands  at  Flaxton’.19 

16  TNA,  E 149/ 106  (2)  m.2;  C139/6  it.45;  C139/13  it.46;  C139/19  it.32;  C139/24  it.36. 

17  Bodleian  Library,  Oxford,  MS.  Top.York.E.32;  MS.  Eng.  c.7100,  f.102. 

IH  Borthwick  Institute,  University  of  York  [hereafter  BI],  PR  FOS  7-16,  Foston  Parish  Records. 

19  J.  Raine,  ed.,  ‘The  Register,  or  Rolls,  of  Walter  Gray,  Lord  Archbishop  of  York’,  Surtees  Society 
56  (1872),  p.20,  XCII,  1227/8. 




The  conclusion  is  that  at  the  time  of  the  Domesday  survey  Flaxton  township  was  assessed 
on  48  oxgangs,  and  that  (probably)  there  were  a further  2,  unassessed,  oxgangs  of  glebe  land 
of  the  vicar  ofBossall. 

It  is  of  note,  and  reassuring,  that  48  oxgangs  equates  with  six  carucates,  and  that  six 
carucates  appears  to  be  a basic  geld  assessment  for  a Yorkshire  vill  at  Domesday,  thus  re- 
enforcing the  appropriateness  of  an  assessment  of  48  oxgangs.20 


There  is  evidence  from  across  the  country  that  at  the  time  of  the  Domesday  survey  the  size 
of  a standard  peasant’s  holding  in  arable  areas  was  a yardland  in  much  of  the  south  of  the 
country  and  two  oxgangs  in  the  north,  in  each  case  usually  totalling  around  thirty  acres  in 
extent,  though  the  actual  area  could  vaiy  quite  considerably  depending  upon  a number  of 
factors.21  But  does  the  evidence  from  Flaxton  support  this  thinking? 

It  is  appropriate  to  consider  the  four  holdings  in  the  Domesday  survey,  but  first  to  look 
briefly  at  the  situation  at  the  time  of  the  Dissolution  of  the  monasteries. 

At  the  Dissolution,  nine  religious  foundations  held  property  in  Flaxton.  Of  these,  St 
Mary’s  abbey,  York,  held  the  Domesday  holding  of  count  Alan’s  soke  in  the  township,  and 
the  prior  of  Hexham  held  the  holding  of  the  archbishop,  with  the  remaining  seven  holdings 
all  appearing  to  stem  - some  certainly  and  some  less  so  - from  the  holding  of  the  king;  leaving 
only  the  holding  of  Hugh  son  of  Baldric  outside  the  fold  of  the  church. 

There  are  surveys  as  at  the  Dissolution  for  six  of  the  nine  foundations;  (1)  St  Mary’s  abbey, 
York;  (2)  St  Andrew’s  priory,  York;  (3)  Marton  priory;  (4)  Kirkham  priory;  (5)  Nunburnholme 
priory;  and  (6)  the  Chantry  of  our  Lady,  the  parish  of  St  John  the  Baptist  at  Ouse  Bridge  End, 
York:  No  surveys  have  been  discovered  for  (1)  Durham  College,  Oxford;  (2)  Hexham  priory; 
or  (3)  the  Chapel  of  St  Helen,  Wilton  (this  was  a very  small  holding  only).22 


As  far  as  count  Alan’s  Foston  soke  of  one  and  a half  carucates  or  twelve  oxgangs  in  Flaxton 
is  concerned,  the  evidence  for  six  plots  or  tenements  has  been  set  out  in  detail  in  the  earlier 
article  by  the  author  referred  to  above  (footnote  4)  and  it  will  not  be  repeated  here  at  length. 
Briefly,  count  Stephen,  successor  to  count  Alan,  granted  the  manor  of  Foston  together  with 
its  Flaxton  soke  to  the  abbot  of  St  Mary’s,  York,  with  whom  it  remained  until  the  dissolution 
of  the  abbey.  The  survey  at  the  time  of  the  Dissolution  listed  six  tenements  and  eleven 

20  D.  M.  Palliser,  ‘An  Introduction  to  the  Yorkshire  Domesday’,  in  A.  Williams,  ed.,  The  Yorkshire 
Domesday  (1992),  vol.l,  p.  16. 

21  Palliser,  ‘Introduction’,  p.  15. 

22  TNA,  SC6/27-28HENVIII/4519  m.l;  SC6/27-28HENVIII/4493  m.ld;  SC6/30-31HENVIII/ 
4557m.2;  SC6/30-31HENVIII/4563  m.l;  SC6/31-32HENVIII/4595  m.10;  W.  Page,  ed.,  ‘The 
Certificates  of  the  Commissioners  appointed  to  survey  the  Chantries,  Guilds,  Hospitals,  etc.  in 
the  County  of  York’,  Surtees  Society , 91  (1894),  p.79. 



oxgangs,  but  later  evidence  indicated  that  there  must  actually  have  been  twelve  oxgangs.23 
The  evidence  of  the  relationship  of  two  oxgangs  to  one  tenement  at  Domesday  is  inferential, 
dating  as  it  does  from  the  time  of  the  Dissolution  and  later,  but  is  not  to  be  discounted. 


While  there  is  no  further  specific  reference  subsequent  to  Domesday  to  the  Flaxton  holding, 
the  king’s  twenty  oxgangs  in  Flaxton  appear  to  have  been  granted  to  the  Fossards  as  part  of 
the  manor  of  Sheriff  Hutton,  and  then  re-granted,  first  to  the  Turnhams  and  then  to  the 
Mauleys,  as  successive  lords  of  the  manor  of  Mulgrave.24  In  1331  the  then  Peter  de  Mauley 
the  elder  released  his  interest  in  the  manor  of  Sheriff  Hutton,  which  in  this  context  again 
seems  to  have  included  Flaxton,  to  Sir  Ralph  de  Nevill  of  Raby  and  Sheriff  Hutton,  whose 
family  had  held  under  the  Mauleys  and  their  predecessors  since  the  latter  part  of  the  twefth 
century  when  Geoffrey  de  Nevill  had  married  Emma,  daughter  of  Bertram  de  Bulmer  of 
Sheriff  Hutton.25 

The  Nevills  (and  perhaps  the  Mauleys  while  holding  in  chief)  seem,  over  the  years,  to  have 
granted  all  their  lands  in  Flaxton  to  religious  institutions,  while  at  the  same  time  retaining 
their  manorial  interest.  Certainly  the  Nevills  gave  1 1 % oxgangs  to  St  Andrew’s,  York,  in  1359 
and  a further  2 oxgangs  to  Durham  College,  Oxford,  at  the  time  of  its  foundation  in  1384. 26 
The  remaining  6V2  of  the  king’s  20  oxgangs  found  their  way  by  means  largely  unknown,  two 
each,  into  the  hands  of  Marton  priory,  Nunburnholme  priory,  and  a chantry  in  York,  with 
small,  non-oxgang  holdings  going  to  Kirkham  priory  and,  through  a gift  as  late  as  1529  by  Sir 
William  Bulmer,  to  a chapel  in  Wilton  in  Cleveland  (ajohn  de  Bulmer  had  held  land  from  the 
Nevills  in  Wilton  in  Cleveland  in  1281 -2). 2/ 

The  relevant  surveys  at  the  time  of  the  Dissolution  of  the  monasteries  give  the  following: 

Priory  of  St  Andrew,  York 
Priory  of  Marton 
Priory  of  Nunburnholme 

Priory  of  Kirkham 

Chantry  of  Our  Lady,  Parish  of 

St  John  the  Baptist  at  Ouse  Bridge  End 

6 tenements  with  IH/2  oxgangs; 

1 tenement  with  2 oxgangs; 

1 tenement  with  2 oxgangs  and 
3 parcels  of  Forbyland; 

1 tenement; 

1 tenement  with  2 oxgangs. 

tenements  with  a few  acres. 

No  survey  has  been  found  for  the  Chapel 

of  St  Helen’s,  Wilton,  but  a lease  of  1564  relates  to  2 

23  Early  Yorkshire  Charters,  4,  ed.  C.  T.  Clay  (1935),  p.4;  TNA,  SC6/31-32HENVIII/4595  mm.  1, 
10;  LR1/171  Liber  E,  F,  G,  fol.  44;  East  Riding  of  Yorkshire  Archive  and  Record  Service,  DDEL35/ 
1,  Langton  MSS:  Bourne,  YAJ,  74,  pp. 162-5. 

24  VCH,  p.  176. 

25  Calendar  Ancient  Deeds,  2,  p.38,  B3259. 

26  TNA,  C143/328/7;  CPR  7 Richard  2 Pt.  2,  m.  28. 

27  J.  Raine,  ed.,  ‘Testamenta  Eboracensia.  A Selections  of  Wills  from  the  Registry  at  York,  vol.  V’, 
Surtees  Society,  79  (1884),  pp.306-19. 



Neither  has  a survey  been  found  for  Durham 
College,  Oxford,  but  presumably  as 

originally  granted  1 tenement  with  2 oxgangs. 

TOTAL  13  tenements  and  19D  oxgangs. 

Thus  the  king’s  Domesday  holding  of  20  oxgangs  can  be  identified  at  the  Dissolution  with 
(1)  10  tenements  with  191/2 oxgangs  and  3 parcels  of  Forbyland  and  (2)  3 tenements  with  a few 

If  there  are  problems,  they  are  tw'ofold.  First,  that  in  the  list  of  knights’  fees  of  1302-3, 
mentioned  earlier,  Ranulph  de  Nevill  was  stated  to  hold  3 carucates  in  Flaxton  from  Peter  de 
Mauley,  whereas  on  the  face  of  it  the  holding  should  have  been  2Vi  carucates  only.  This 
remains  an  anomaly.  Secondly  the  grant  to  St  Andrew’s,  York,  of  1359  was  of ‘10  tofts  and 
1 1 ‘/2  bovates’.  This  suggests  some  flexibility  over  the  years  in  the  number  of  tofts,  with  tofts 
being  sub-divided  or  amalgamated  as  needs  arose. 


In  the  twelfth  century  the  archbishop’s  holding  of  six  oxgangs  was  granted  by  archbishop 
Thurston  to  the  prior  of  Hexham  as  part  of  the  prebend  of  Salton  and  was  held  by  the  priory 
until  its  dissolution.28  A terrier,  said  to  date  from  1294-5,  stated  that  the  prebendary  had  ‘in 
Flaxton  three  tenements  each  with  two  oxgangs  paying  in  total  66s.  8d’.29  Another  terrier, 
also  undated  but  said  to  date  from  the  latter  half  of  the  fifteenth  century,  refers  to  ‘two 
tenements  with  six  oxgangs,  of  which  one  tenement  with  two  oxgangs  was  occupied  by  John 
Place  at  the  east  side  of  the  town  at  the  south  end  and  the  other  tenement  with  four  oxgangs 
by  William  Watson  next  to  it  to  the  north’:  It  would  seem  that  two  tenements  had  been 
amalgamated  since  the  time  of  the  earlier  document.30  Finally,  there  is  the  Black  Book  of 
Hexham,  a 1479  survey  of  the  priory’s  lands.  The  information  contained  in  the  document 
was  derived  from  returns  provided  to  the  priory  over  a period  of  at  least  two  years  before 
that  date.  Presumably  it  post-dated  the  second  terrier  above,  but  it  cannot  have  been  by  long. 
Now  a Richard,  not  John,  Place  occupied  ‘per  cartam’  a toft  and  one  oxgang  described  as 
‘libera  firma’.  In  addition  five  oxgangs,  estimated  at  fifteen  acres  each  and  described  as  ‘de 
bond’,  were  held  by  Richard  Place  (again)  with  two  tofts  and  two  oxgangs,  and  a William 
Raynerson  with  two  tofts  and  three  oxgangs.31  Thus,  all  three  terriers  confirm  the  continuation 
of  the  six  oxgangs,  initially  with  three  tenements,  reducing  to  two  and  then  increasing  to 
five.  No  survey  of  the  prebendary  estate  has  been  found  for  the  Dissolution.  However, 
following  the  dissolution  of  the  priory  the  prebendaiy  estate  was  granted  by  the  king  to  Lord 
Eure  for  services  rendered.  The  grant  makes  no  mention  of  the  Flaxton  element  but  it  seems 
certain  that  it  must  have  been  included  as,  by  two  separate  fines  of  1620,  a subsequent  Lord 
Eure  disposed  of  (1)  land,  approximately  the  equivalent  of  the  six  oxgangs,  in  Flaxton  to  a 

28  J.  Raine,  ed.,  ‘The  Priory  of  Hexham,  its  Title  Deeds,  Black  Book,  etc.,  vol.II,  Surtees  Society, 
46  (1864),  p.vii 

29  Raine,  ‘Hexham’,  p.84;  . T.  A.  M.  Bishop,  ed.,  ‘Extents  of  the  Prebends  of  York,  c.  1 295’, 
Miscellanea , IV,  YAS  Record  Series,  94  (1936),  p.  1 7. 

30  Raine,  ‘Hexham’,  p.  155. 

31  Raine,  ‘Hexham’,  pp.80-1. 



Timothy  Draper  esquire,  an  unidentified,  non-Flaxton  individual  and  (2)  two  messuages  and 
some  small  parcels  of  land  to  Thomas  Grave  and  Marmaduke  Skaylinge,  members  of  two 
long-standing  Flaxton  families,  perhaps  the  sitting  tenants.32  It  is  possible  that  there  had  been 
other,  so  far  undiscovered,  disposals  of  tenements  earlier;  more  likely  the  number  of  tenements 
had  simply  reverted  to  the  position  referred  to  in  the  second  terrier  mentioned  above. 


The  fourth  Domesday  holding  was  that  of  Hugh  son  of  Baldric,  and  for  this  there  is  no 
evidence  one  way  or  the  other  that  relates  to  the  thinking  that  the  typical  Flaxton  holding  was 
represented  by  one  tenement  and  two  oxgangs.  However,  it  is  worth  pointing  out  that  the 
deed  of  gift  of  c.1290,  referred  to  above,  specifically  stated  that  Richard  de  Dunstapel’s  tofts 
(in  the  plural)  were  excluded  from  the  grant,  which  leaves  open  the  possibility  that  prior  to 
the  gift  there  had  been  two  tofts  with  the  half  carucate  (4  oxgangs)  of  land  included  in  the  gift. 


A charter  of  1293  of  Laurence  de  Boutham,  in  the  cartulary  of  St  Mary’s,  York,  concerned 
with  a toft  and  croft  and  three  oxgangs,  described  the  toft  and  croft  as  lying  ‘between  lands 
of  the  prior  and  convent  of  Marton  and  the  lands  of  Robert  de  Dunstapel’,  with  two  of  the 
oxgangs  as  lying  ‘between  lands  of  the  said  prior  and  lands  of  Agnes  le  Gra  and  the  said 
Robert’  and  the  third  oxgang  between  lands  of  Walter  son  of  Isaac  on  one  side  and  Simon  his 
brother  on  the  other.33  This  suggests  that  the  toft  and  the  first  two  oxgangs  were  an  original 
holding  while  the  third  oxgang  was  a separate  acquisition.  In  the  same  cartulary  is  a series  of 
charters  of  c.1316  relating  to  one  toft  with  a croft  and  one  oxgang  and  again  involving  the 
Isaac  family,  and  it  is  tempting  to  conclude  that  the  oxgang  concerned  is  the  same  as  or,  better 
still,  had  at  one  time  been  paired  with  one  or  other  of  the  neighbouring  ‘Isaac’  oxgangs  in  the 
earlier  charter.34 

Finally  there  is  a fine  of  1252  between  Gilbert  de  Speton,  petitioner,  and  William  de 
Barton,  tenant,  relating  to  one  toft  and  two  oxgangs  of  land  with  appurtenances  in  Flaxton.35 


So  much  for  the  evidence  that  in  Flaxton  a typical  holding  at  Domesday  was  one  tenement 
and  two  oxgangs.  None  of  it  dates  back  to  the  Domesday  survey  itself  None  indeed  to  within 
150  years  of  Domesday  Yet  it  is,  perhaps,  in  its  own  way,  quite  compelling  and  difficult  to 
argue  against.  For  why  should  such  a pattern  of  one  tenement  to  two  oxgangs  emerge  if  it 
were  not  indeed  created  at  the  outset ? 

32  TNA,  C66/765.17  26HENVIII;  CP25/2/382/17JAS1,  EASTER. 

33  YMA,  XVI  A.l,  f.  170. 

34  YMA,  XVI  A.l,  f.75. 

35  TNA,  CP25/1/265/45  no.121. 




A simplified  plan  of  the  settlement  including  the  Green  and  the  Crofts  and  some  of  the 
adjoining  land,  adapted  from  the  Ordnance  Survey  1/2500-scale  edition  of  1911  (Fig  2). 

Flaxton  is  essentially  a single-row  settlement,  facing  south-west  over  its  Green.  To  the  rear 
of  the  tenements  and  their  garths  is  a Back  Lane  and  over  the  lane  is  a series  of  Crofts. 
However,  before  considering  the  single-row  settlement  it  is  appropriate  to  look  briefly  at 
another  area  of  the  present  village.  Lying  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  Green  from  the  single 
row  of  tenements  and,  at  first  sight,  seemingly  taken  partly  out  of  the  Green  and  partly  out  of 
what  was  the  common  or  moor  to  the  south-west,  are  two  enclosures  (outlined  in  bold  on  the 
plan).  (1)  The  first  enclosure  comprises  the  present  church,  its  churchyard  and  rectory  (OS 
167/168)  and  the  site  of  two  tenements  (OS  169  and  170),  the  south-easterly  one  of  which  is 
now  occupied  by  a property  known  as  Draft  Farm.  The  present  church  is  on  the  site  of  a 
chapel-of-ease,  dedicated  like  the  church  to  St  Lawrence,  which  had  existed  since  certainly 
before  1316  when  the  chapel  and  both  tenements  were  mentioned  in  a series  of  charters 
relating  to  the  Draft  Farm  site.36  The  tenement  site  between  the  Draft  Farm  site  and  the 
chapel  yard  was  occupied  at  the  time  by  ‘the  parson’s  man’,  and  this  site  together  with  the 
Draft  Farm  site  were  both  held  from  the  prior  of  Kirkham.  The  two  corners  of  the  enclosure 
on  its  south-west  side,  against  what  used  to  be  the  common  or  moor  of  Flaxton,  are  rounded, 
a familiar  indication  of  ancient  enclosures  from  moor  land.  (2)  The  second  enclosure  (OS 
224),  lies  a little  to  the  north-west  and  is  similarly  orientated,  comprising  a single  tenement 
now  known  as  Firtree  House  and  also  having  rounded  corners  against  the  common  or  moor. 
It  is  likely  to  be  of  the  same  date  or  thereabouts.  Unlike  the  single  row  of  tenements  on  the 
other  side  of  the  Green,  none  of  the  three  tenements  has  a croft  attaching  to  it  (the  apparent 
croft  to  the  rear  of  the  Draft  Farm  site  is  an  eighteenth  century  creation).  It  is  suggested  that 
these  two  enclosures,  early  though  they  might  seem  to  be,  are  not  original  to  the  planned 
settlement  and  that  the  original  planned  settlement  is  restricted  to  the  single  row  of  tenements 
to  the  north-east  of  the  Green.  This  suggestion  is  discussed  further  in  section  (4)  below.  It  is 
also  suggested  that  the  Draft  Farm  plot  would  originally  have  been  occupied  by  whoever 
farmed  the  vicar’s  two  oxgangs  and  the  plot  between  the  last  and  the  chapel  site  by  the  vicar’s 
curate  or  chaplain. 

Taken  from  the  1911  edition  of  the  Ordnance  Survey  to  a scale  of  1/2500,  and  also  checked 
on  the  ground,  the  overall  length  of  the  frontage  of  what  is  believed  to  be  the  probable 
original  planned  settlement  is  2,445  feet  (745  metres).  The  terminal  points  used  for  the 
measurement  also  existed,  and  made  equal  sense,  on  the  1856  edition  of  the  1/10560-scale 
Ordnance  Survey  and  on  the  1844  Tithe  Award  1/2500-scale  plan.3/  The  south-eastern 
terminal  point  of  the  original  settlement  is  clear  and  unambiguous  on  the  ground  and  was 
adjoined  by  a part  of  the  common  or  moor  of  Flaxton  which  was  allotted  at  enclosure  to  the 
vicar  of  Bossall.  The  north-western  terminal  point  is  likewise  clear,  being  adjoined  by  a close 
(OS  231/117)  with  ridge-and-furrow  lands  which  extend  from  the  northern  corner  of  the 

36  YMA,  XVI  A.l,  ff.331-3. 

37  BI,  TA  432  M,  Flaxton  tithe  award. 



Fig.2.  Plan  of  Flaxton  settlement 



Crofts  through  almost  to  the  Green;  and  which  probably  once  extended  to  the  Green  but  are 
now  terminated  by  a stackyard  extension,  present  since  certainly  1844,  and  a recent  housing 
development.  While  a measurement  of  2,445  feet  is  overlong,  it  is  suggested  it  represents  an 
acceptable  length  of  frontage  for  24  plots  each  of  100  feet  (albeit  incorporating  an  anomaly) 
based  on  a unit  of  five  rods  each  of  20  feet:  24  plots  accords  with  the  proportion  of  one 
tenement  to  two  oxgangs  and  the  anticipated  total  of  48  oxgangs  in  the  township.  The 
alternative  of  a base  unit  of  six  rods  each  of  17  feet  (2448  feet  overall)  has  been  considered 
but  does  not  fit  well  when  checked  against  the  1911  plot  boundaries.38 

The  frontage  can  be  divided  into  three  sections: 

A north-west  section  with  a frontage  of  645  feet. 

A middle,  Foston  section  (as  recorded  on  the  Tithe  Award  map  of  1844),  of  600  feet. 

A south-east  section  of  1200  feet. 

The  Foston  section  extends  to  one  quarter  of  the  frontage,  ignoring  the  anomalous  45  feet, 
thus  according  precisely  to  the  proportion  which  the  number  of  Foston  oxgangs  bore  to  the 
anticipated  whole  (12:48). 

It  will  be  noted  that  the  frontage  of  the  settlement  includes  a narrow  roadway  (indeed 
named  as  Narrow  Lane  in  the  enclosure  award)  known  as  Barney  Lane,  leading  from  the 
Green  through  to  the  Back  Lane  and  the  Crofts,  and  to  a track  marked  on  the  Ordnance 
Survey  maps  of  1856  and  1911  as  ‘Malton  Lane’,  about  which  little  is  known  and  even  when 
so  named  did  not  extend  to  the  township  boundary.  (In  the  enclosure  award  of  1658  this 
track  was  named  as  Middlegate  and,  by  its  description,  seems  to  have  served  as  no  more  than 
a way  to  the  large  block  of  land  to  the  east).  There  is  a narrow  strip  of  land  to  either  side  of 
Barney  Lane,  and  these  two  strips  and  Barney  Lane  have  between  them  a frontage  of 
approximately  100  feet  to  the  Green;  the  equivalent  of  an  original  plot.  This  equivalence  is 
not  considered  to  be  a coincidence,  The  lane  may  have  been  part  of  the  original  planned 
settlement  with  the  narrow  plots  to  either  side  being  later  encroachments.  In  this  event,  the 
built-frontage  will  have  been  100  feet  less  and  the  number  of  plots  reduced  to  23  only. 
However  this  would  imply  only  46  oxgangs  against  the  48  anticipated,  and  accordingly  this 
thinking  is  discarded.  Alternatively  Barney  Lane  was  inserted  at  the  expense  of  one  plot  at 
the  same  time  as  the  Back  Lane  was  created,  and  this  thought  is  pursued  in  section  (4)  below. 

Many  centuries  have  passed  since  the  Domesday  survey,  and  many  changes  have  taken 
place  over  the  years.  However,  an  examination  of  Fig  3 gives  broad  support  to  the  thesis  of 
24  original  plots  each  with  a frontage  of  100  feet,  with  many  of  the  1911  property  boundaries 
being  coincident  with  the  anticipated  plot  boundaries.  The  individual  plots  have  been 
numbered  on  the  Plan  from  1 to  24,  starting  at  the  north-west  end  of  the  settlement.  Plots  5 
and  6 have  been  conjoined  for  reasons  explained  below. 


C.  C.  Taylor:  Personal  communication  on  plot  widths  based  on  a multiple  of  rods. 



Fig.3.  Plan  of  Flaxton  settlement  (detail) 



At  this  juncture  it  may  be  as  well  to  pause  a moment  and  marshal  what  is  known  about  the 
distribution  of  the  Domesday  holdings  in  the  settlement: 

(1)  The  6 Foston  tenements  of  count  Alan  are  grouped  together  and  confirmed  as 
Plots  7-12. 

(2)  The  3 Hexham  priory  tenements  of  the  archbishop  are  grouped  together  and  are  ‘at 
the  east  side  of  the  town  at  the  south  end’  (Interpreted  as  meaning  ‘at  the  south-east  end  of 
the  town1). 

From  the  above  it  is  reasonable  to  expect  (and  this  is  critical  to  much  that  follows)  that: 

(3)  The  10  tenements  of  the  king  and  the  5 tenements  of  Hugh  son  of  Baldric  will  also  each 
be  grouped  together. 

A quick  count  of  the  number  and  position  of  the  remaining  plots  available  will  soon  make 
it  apparent  that  if  (1)  and  (2)  above  are  correct,  (3)  is  not  feasible.  At  the  north-west  end  of 
the  town  there  are  6 plots  available,  both  too  many  and  too  few  to  make  sense,  and  at  the 
south-east  end  there  are  only  12  plots  available,  including  Plot  17  - insufficient  for  the  10 
tenements  of  the  king  and  the  3 tenements  of  the  archbishop.  The  problem  can  however  be 
resolved  if  the  10  plots  are  considered  not  as  the  king’s  but  as  those  of  the  three  thanes. 
When  this  is  done,  Plots  1-6  and  13-16  are  available  for  the  10  tenements  of  the  three  thanes 
and  Plots  17-24  for  the  8 tenements  of  Hugh  and  the  archbishop.  This  solution  is  adopted 

To  return  to  the  description  of  the  plots:  plots  1-6  of  645  feet,  at  the  north-west  end  of  the 
settlement,  present  a problem.  However  one  looks  at  them,  the  plot  boundaries  do  not  fit 
comfortably  overall  with  the  boundaries  recorded  on  the  1911  Ordnance  Survey  map,  nor 
with  those  on  either  of  the  earlier  maps,  nor  with  an  expected  frontage  of  600  feet  for  six 
plots.  One  possibility  is  that  at  the  very  outset  of  the  planning  one  or  two  plots  were  created 
wider  than  the  others.  Given  that  the  plots  formed  part  of  the  holdings  of  the  three  thanes, 
rather  than  of  the  king,  it  is  perhaps  possible  that  either  one  or  two  of  the  thanes  might  have 
been  allotted  such  a benefit.  This  solution  makes  the  best  sense  on  the  ground,  with  Plots  1 
to  4 fitting  modestly  well  to  the  module  on  the  basis  that  Plot  4 has  absorbed  half  of  Plot  3; 
this  last  accords  well  with  what  is  known  about  the  history  of  Flaxton  House,  the  property 
concerned.  This  leaves  approaching  two  and  a half  plot  widths  for  Plots  5 and  6 but  with  no 
sensible  indication  on  the  ground  of  where  the  division  between  the  two  plots  might  have 
been.  The  problem  remains  unresolved,  and  on  the  attached  plan  Plots  5 and  6 have  been 
conjoined  and  allotted  a frontage  of  245  feet. 

Continuing  south-easterly,  Plots  7-16  inclusive,  as  can  be  seen  from  the  Plan,  fit  well  to  the 
module,  with  any  apparent  anomalies  simply  explained.  Plots  7 and  8 fit  well.  Plot  10  has 
expanded  at  some  time  to  take  in  half  of  Plots  9 and  11  to  either  side.  Plots  12  and  13,  the 
first  in  Foston  and  the  second  in  Bossall,  have  long  been  combined  into  a double  plot,  now 
known  as  Beech  Tree  Farm  (in  1841,  at  the  time  of  the  enquiry  leading  to  the  tithe  award,  the 
then  farmhouse  was  described  at  one  of  the  hearings  prior  to  the  award  being  made  as  ‘partly 
in  Bossall  & partly  in  Foston1).39  Plots  14-16  fit  well,  though  the  last  has  been  divided  into 

39  TNA,  IR  18/11971,  Tithe  Files. 



The  overall  frontage  of  Plots  17  to  24  is  800  feet,  which  fits  well  with  eight  plots.  Plot  17, 
the  Barney  Lane  plot,  fits  well  to  the  module.  Plots  18  and  19  appear  to  have  been  amalgamated. 
Thereafter  the  individual  plot  boundaries  are  largely  lost;  and  alterations  within  Hugh’s 
Domesday  holding,  subsequently  de  Stuteville,  may  account  for  this. 

The  history  of  Hugh’s  holding  in  Flaxton,  as  part  of  the  manor  of  Buttercrambe,  has  been 
traced  in  Section  (1)  above  from  Domesday  forward  to  1426.  Thereafter  the  picture  is 
confused,  but  the  Flaxton  element  seems  to  reappear  as  part  of,  or  in  some  way  attached  to, 
the  manor  of  Bossall  which  at  Domesday  was  a berewick  of  the  manor  of  Scrayingham, 
which  in  turn  was  also  held  by  Hugh  and  subsequently  the  de  Stutevilles.  The  histoiy  of  the 
manor  of  Bossall  can  be  traced  back  in  time  through  a series  of  deeds  to  1392  but  the  earliest 
reference  to  Flaxton  is  not  until  1613,  when  an  interest  in  the  manor  of  Bossall  was  conveyed 
to  a William  Belt  and  others,  and  included  in  the  conveyance  was  undifferentiated  property 
in  Bossall  and  in  four  townships  within  Bossall  parish  including  Flaxton.  By  1648  the  manor 
of  Bossall  and  its  appurtenances  were  in  the  hands  of  Sir  Robert  Belt  who,  because  of  his 
royalist  sympathies,  was  subsequently  dispossessed  of  Bossall  Hall;  whereupon  he  moved  to 
Flaxton  and  later  died  there.  In  1659,  the  year  after  the  enclosure  award,  a property  transaction 
between  Sir  Robert’s  sons  included:  ‘one  other  messuage  one  croft  and  garth  and  one  hundred 
and  forty  three  acres  of  land  ...  in  Flaxton  on  the  Moor’.40  The  143  acres  were  identified  on 
the  ground  in  the  enclosure  award  of  the  previous  year  and  were  divided  approximately 
60:40  between  the  former  open  field  and  the  common  respectively,  the  open  field  part  being 
equivalent  to  some  6 oxgangs,  each  of  15  acres  (the  area  for  an  oxgang  in  Flaxton  as  stated 
in  the  Black  Book  of  1479  of  Hexham  priory,  mentioned  earlier).  Only  one  messuage  is 
mentioned  in  the  deed  of  1659  and  this  seems  to  have  collapsed  or  been  pulled  down  by  the 
time  the  Belt  family  sold  its  Flaxton  estate  in  1827  (sometime  between  1811  and  1827  a new 
farmstead  had  been  built  on  the  former  open  field  land).  The  original  messuage  is  identified 
from  subsequent  memorials  of  conveyances  as  standing  within  Plot  21  and  half  of  Plot  22. 41 

It  should  be  noted  at  this  point  that  the  Belt  property  appears  to  account  for  6 oxgangs 
only  and  not  the  10  oxgangs  which  it  was  concluded  earlier  were  in  Hugh’s  original  Domesday 
holding.  This  casts  some  doubt  on  the  assumption  that  the  Belt  property  stems  from  Hugh’s 
Domesday  holding.  However,  it  is  quite  possible  that,  at  some  time  over  the  centuries,  some 
of  Hugh’s  holding  had  been  severed  and  gone  elsewhere. 

The  archbishop,  later  Hexham  priory,  also  had  3 plots  in  this  area  because,  as  mentioned 
earlier,  John  Place’s  tofts  were  specifically  described  in  the  latter  half  of  the  fifteenth  century 
as  being  ‘at  the  east  side  of  the  town  at  the  south  end’.  Taken  literally  this  implies  that  Plots 
22-24  belonged  to  the  priory.  However  that  cannot  be  the  case  if  Plot  21  and  half  of  Plot  22 
have  been  correctly  identified  as  part  of  the  Hugh’s  holding.  Thus  it  must  be  assumed  that 
the  reference  must  have  been  to  that  part  of  the  township  which  lay  towards  the  south-east 
end  of  the  town  and  not  at  the  extreme  end.  Thus  Plots  17-19  must  be  allocated  to  the 
archbishop,  and  Plots  20-24  to  Hugh. 

40  BI,  MOR3-37. 

41  North  Yorkshire  County  Record  Office  [hereafter  NYCRO],  MIC  339  FK64/41. 



The  above  arrangement  is  supported  by  three  further  pieces  of  evidence.  Firstly,  let  us 
look  again  at  ( 1 ) Laurence  de  Boutham’s  charter  of  1 293  and  (2)  the  Black  Book  of  Hexham 
priory  of  1479.  Laurence’s  charter  described  the  toft  and  croft  as  lying  ‘between  lands  of  the 
prior  and  convent  of  Marton  and  the  lands  of  Robert  de  Dunstapel’,  with  two  of  the  oxgangs 
as  lying  ‘between  lands  of  the  said  prior  and  lands  of  Agnes  le  Gra  and  the  said  Robert’.  This 
is  a clear  example,  despite  one  of  the  neighbouring  oxgangs  no  longer  being  entirely  in  de 
Dunstapel  hands,  of  Solskifte  or  sun-division,  the  system  whereby  neighbours  in  the 
settlement  were  also  neighbours  in  the  fields  and  furlongs  of  the  township.42  Another,  partial, 
example  is  in  the  Black  Book,  in  that  the  lands  of  the  five  oxgangs  held  ‘de  bond’  by  Place  and 
Raynerson  were  described  as  ‘lying  everywhere  between  the  lands  of  Richard  Bernard  and 
the  lands  of  the  nuns  of  Burnholme’,  carrying  with  it  the  implication  that  the  holdings  of 
Place  and  Raynerson  lay  between  the  same  neighbours.  In  this  event,  their  tofts  cannot  have 
been  Plots  22-24  as  there  would  have  been  no  neighbour  to  the  south-east.  Secondly,  the 
arrangement  also  allows  the  nuns  to  have  Plot  16,  which  makes  sense  in  that  their  holding 
appears  to  have  stemmed  via  the  Nevills  from  the  king’s  Domesday  holding:  Richard  Bernard 
on  the  other  side  will  have  been  a tenant  of  a de  Stuteville  tenement.  Thirdly,  it  will  be  noted 
from  the  plan  that  the  boundary  between  Plots  19  and  20  is  the  only  one  at  this  end  of  the 
town  to  be  correctly  positioned,  albeit  not  precisely,  thus  preserving  on  the  ground  the 
ancient  boundary  between  the  two  holdings  of  the  Domesday  survey. 


To  summarise : while  there  are  anomalies,  particularly  towards  the  north-west  end  of  the 
settlement,  the  overall  picture  is  of  a planned  settlement  of 24  tenements  laid  out  in  a single 
row  on  one  side  of  the  Green  and  with  a plot  frontage  of  five  rods  each  of 20  feet  ( with  either 
one,  or  possibly  two,  over-sized  plots),  vestiges  of  which  remain  and  are  still  to  be  seen.  It  is 
known  that  the  Foston  soke  tenements  were  grouped  together  at  Plots  7-12.  It  has  been 
surmised  above  that  the  archbishop  s tenements  were  Plots  17-19  and  Hugh ’s  20-24.  The 
ten  tenements  of  the  king,  stemming  as  they  did  from  the  holdings  of  three  thanes,  will  have 
been  Plots  1-6  and  Plots  13-16,  with  two  of  the  thanes  probably  holding  Plots  1-6  and  the 
third  thane  holding  Plots  13-16. 


This  subject  was  looked  at  briefly  in  the  earlier  article  by  the  author,  but  now  needs  to  be 
considered  again.  Two  documents,  both  referred  to  earlier,  are  of  particular  help  in  this. 
These  are:  (1)  the  copy,  incomplete  though  it  is,  of  the  enclosure  award  of  1658,  which  was 
not  available  when  the  earlier  article  was  written;  and  (2)  the  Black  Book  of  Hexham  priory 
of  1479. 

The  copy  of  the  enclosure  award  names  four  open  fields:  the  Girnol  Field,  the  Broad  Field, 
the  Croft  Field  and  the  South  Field  (the  only  known  reference  to  the  South  Field)  and,  when 
describing  the  whereabouts  of  each  allotment  in  the  fields,  the  award  names  the  field  and  the 

42  B.  K.  Roberts  and  S.  Wrathmell,  Regions  and  Places  - A Study  of  English  rural  settlement, 
English  Heritage  (2002),  pp. 119-25;  C.  Lewis,  P.  Mitchell-Fox  and  C.  Dyer,  Village  Hamlet  and 
Field ’ (Cambridge,  1997),  p.20. 



furlong  out  of  which  the  allotment  was  awarded. 

The  Black  Book  names  two  fields  only;  the  Brod-feld and  the  Croft-feld  but  starts  by  listing 
three  furlongs  identified  as  being  in  the  South  Field  and  then,  working  clockwise  continues 
with  listing  the  furlongs  identified  as  being  in  the  Girnol  Field,  though  without  naming  the 
field,  then  the  furlongs  in  the  Brod-feld  and  finally  the  furlongs  in  the  Croft-feld.  The  priory’s 
lands  lay  in  36  named  furlongs,  and  the  acreage  occupied  by  the  priory’s  tenants  in  each 
furlong  is  quoted.  The  names  of  4 adjoining  furlongs  in  the  Brod-feld  are  also  quoted,  giving 
a total  of  40  names,  of  which  the  whereabouts  of  31  are  known.  Some  of  the  furlongs  named 
in  the  Black  Book  are  not  mentioned  in  the  copy  of  the  enclosure  award,  but  this  is  largely 
because  they  lie  within  areas  of  the  open  fields  allotted  to  Sir  Thomas  Norcliffe,  the  principal 
absentee  landlord  and  the  prime  mover  behind  the  decision  to  enclose,  or  to  John  Marshall, 
the  most  substantial  freeholder  resident  in  the  township,  none  of  whose  allotments  is 
described  in  the  incomplete  copy  of  the  award. 

Eleven  of  the  40  furlongs  named  in  the  Black  Book,  all  but  one  in  either  the  Girnol  Field  or 
the  Brod-feld , have  names  suggestive  of  assarting:  Stobkeldes,  in  the  South  Field;  Hagge- 
brekes and  Thwaitesm  the  Girnol  Field;  and  Ayk-buskes,  Brakan-hill,  Westil-carris , Yle-carr , 
North-brek,  West-brek,  Wandales  and  Brotes  in  the  Brod-feld.  These  furlongs,  excluding 
Stobkeldes , represent  around  half  the  furlongs  in  the  Girnol  Field  and  Brod-feld.  Given  that 
(1)  the  township  was  assessed  in  the  Domesday  survey  at  48  oxgangs,  and  there  were  in 
addition  the  2 oxgangs  of  glebe,  and  (2)  that  the  number  was  unchanged  at  50  oxgangs  at 
enclosure  in  1658,  it  is  difficult  to  understand  how  this  assarting  could  have  taken  place 
after  Domesday.  Further,  it  is  established  that  the  12  oxgangs  of  count  Alan’s  soke  in  Flaxton 
remained  unchanged  at  enclosure  and  that  the  6 oxgangs  of  the  archbishop  remained 
unchanged  at  least  until  1479.  Overall,  the  conclusion  must  be  that  the  assarting  took  place 
before  Domesday.  However,  is  it  reasonable  to  identify  the  48  fiscal  bovates  or  oxgangs  at 
Domesday  with  the  corresponding  48  tenurial  oxgangs  at  enclosure?  Certainly  Flaxton  is 
not  the  only  township  with  this  experience.  For  example,  Kilham  in  the  East  Riding  had  384 
fiscal  bovates  (the  basic  unit  of  6 carucates  multiplied  by  eight)  at  Domesday  and  the  same 
number  of  oxgangs  at  enclosure  in  1729.  This  cannot  be  just  a coincidence,  and  it  seems  safe 
to  conclude  that  the  identification  can  be  made.43 

Is  it  also  reasonable  to  conclude  that  the  open-field  system  was  also  in  place  at  the  time  of 
the  Domesday  survey  as  well  as  at  enclosure?  As  mentioned  in  section  (3),  there  is  good 
evidence  in  Flaxton  for  the  institution  of  Solskifte,  or  sun-division,  the  system  whereby 
neighbours  in  the  settlement  were  also  neighbours  in  the  fields  and  furlongs  of  the  township. 
The  system  is  Scandinavian  in  origin  and  it  is  logical  that  the  first  and  early  introductions  of 
open  field  systems  based  on  Solsklfte  will  have  had  at  least  some  Scandinavian  settlers,  or 
their  lords,  as  the  moving  spirits  behind  the  reorganisation.  Flaxton  is  geographically  in  the 

43  D.  M.  Palliser:  ‘Introduction’,  p.  19.,  citing  M.  Harvey,  ‘Open  field  structure  and  landholding 
arrangements  in  Eastern  Yorkshire’,  Transactions  of  the  Institute  of  British  Geographers , n.s.9 
(1984),  pp. 60-74  and  ‘The  development  of  open  fields  in  the  central  Vale  of  York:  a reconsideration’, 
Geografiska  Annaler,  67B  (1985),  pp. 35-44.  Also  Palliser,  pp. 15-19  for  a general  discussion  on 
assessments  and  measurements.  However,  Professor  Palliser  might  not  accept  the  further  conclusion 
that  the  open-field  system  also  dates  from  before  the  Domesday  survey,  or  even  the  Conquest. 



heart  of  the  Danelaw  and  accordingly  is  likely  to  have  been  one  of  the  earlier  settlements  to 
reorganise  on  this  basis.  In  addition,  Ulfr,  one  of  the  lords  of  Flaxton  at  the  Conquest,  was 
also  one  of  the  most  important  Danish  lords  in  the  North  and  East  Ridings  at  the  time. 
Bearing  in  mind  Flaxton’s  position  within  the  Danelaw,  it  is  also  more  than  possible  that  the 
three  thanes  were  Scandinavian  and  not  Saxon. 

The  conclusion  is  that  the  open-field  system  is  more  likely  to  have  been  in  place  by 
Domesday  and ' indeed,  by  the  Conquest,  than  later.  However,  this  does  not  necessarily 
imply  that  the  planned  settlement  was  also  in  place  by  then;  and  the  remainder  of  this  section 
is  devoted  to  considering  this  further  aspect,  and  to  do  so  requires  an  examination  of  how 
the  Crofts,  the  Back  Lane  and  the  Green  fit  with  the  planned  settlement,  and  a reconsideration 
of  the  chapel  complex  and  the  adjacent  early  enclosure  of  the  Firtree  House  site. 


The  extent  of  the  Crofts  is  outlined  in  bold  on  the  plan.  The  Crofts  are  now  a series  of 
small  enclosed  fields,  largely  but  not  entirely  in  ridge-and-furrow,  varying  in  width  from  two 
to  eleven  ridges  or,  locally,  lands.  It  is  not  known  for  certain  when  the  fields  of  the  Crofts 
were  first  fenced  or  hedged  off  from  each  other,  but  it  would  seem  from  the  wording  of 
various  deeds  and  memorials  to  have  been  no  later  than  about  the  time  of  the  enclosure 
award  of  1658.  However,  for  a long  time  before  enclosure  the  Croft  furlong  clearly  differed 
in  some  respect  from  the  other  furlongs  in  the  open  fields  of  Flaxton.  For  example,  the 
enclosure  award  alloted  no  land  in  either  the  Croft  furlong  or  the  Crofts,  and  only  mentioned 
the  Crofts  in  the  context  of  new  allotments  lying  adjoining  the  Crofts.  Again,  the  Black  Book 
describes  the  priory’s  selions  (strips  of  arable  land)  in  every  single  case  as  being  on  a particular 
furlong  except  in  the  case  of  the  Crofts  where  the  description  is  in  the  Crofts.  It  is  also  clear 
that  the  six  original  Foston  tenements  had  a total  of  24  ridges  or  lands  attaching  to  them  in 
the  Crofts.  This  is  made  abundantly  clear  in  the  early  terriers,  mentioned  above,  listing  the 
right  to  tithes  of  the  rector  of  Foston:  In  1685,  27  years  after  enclosure,  the  rector  was 
entitled  to  ‘the  tith  of  eight  houses  & orchards  & 24  lea  lands  in  crofts  in  Flaxton  aforesaid’: 
In  1716  the  entitlement  was  ‘the  tyth  of  24  croft  lands’  (no  mention  of  houses);  and  finally,  in 
1727,  ‘likewise  24  crofts  which  are  tythable  to  the  said  Rectory.  There  are  6 houses  & a half 
which  pay  tythe  to  the  Rector’  (the  half  house  of  1727  no  doubt  refers  to  the  house,  referred 
to  above,  divided  between  Foston  and  Bossall  at  the  time  of  the  tithe  award,  and  suggests  that 
its  building  took  place  sometime  between  1685  and  1727).  The  variable  number  of  houses 
will  have  reflected  the  changing  position  on  the  ground;  with  houses  being  built,  divided, 
converted  into  or  out  of  farm  buildings  or  demolished  as  needed.  Finally,  as  far  as  Foston  is 
concerned,  the  Foston  lands  in  the  Crofts  were  immediately  to  the  rear  of  the  Foston  tenements 
and  comprised  24  lands,  allowing  for  four  lands,  or  two  acres  as  it  happens,  to  each  of  the 
original  six  plots. 

The  Black  Book  provides  further  support.  The  standard  phrasing  in  the  text  is,  for  example, 
‘In  the  Croft-feld ...  on  the  Schol-Brades  1 Nacres’.  In  only  one  instance  is  this  varied,  and 
this  is  where  the  words  ‘in  two  places’  are  added  at  the  end  of  the  phrase  - thus:  ‘In  the  Brod- 
feld ...  on  the  Brotes  in  two  places  6 acres’.  In  the  case  of  the  Crofts,  the  wording  is  ‘In  the 
Croft-feld  in  the  Crofts  6 acres’;  the  inference  being  that  the  lands  in  the  Crofts  were  in  one 
place.  Again  the  relationship  is  two  acres  to  a tenement  and  the  conclusion  is  that  the  six 



acres  lay  immediately  to  the  rear  of  the  priory’s  tenements. 

The  Crofts  extend  to  approximately  50  acres  overall  and  comprise  93  lands.  Ideally  for  24 
tenements  there  would  be  96  lands  with  each  tenement  being  allotted  4 lands,  but  as  the 
Croft  furlong  with  its  lands  of  variable  width  would  already  have  existed  when  the  lands 
were  allotted  to  the  individual  tenements  there  must  have  been  an  element  of  give  and  take 
in  the  widths  of  the  various  allotments.  There  is  the  further  problem,  as  can  be  seen  from  the 
plan,  in  that  the  length  (and  thus  the  area)  of  the  individual  Crofts  is  distinctly  variable  with, 
for  example,  those  towards  the  south  end  of  the  town,  being  shorter  than  the  others. 
Nevertheless,  the  conclusion  must  be  that  at  some  time  in  the  past  each  of  the  24  tenements 
would  have  been  allotted  a portion  of  the  Crofts  immediately  over  the  Back  Lane 
corresponding  as  near  as  practicable  to  the  width  of  the  tenement. 

It  is  worth  considering  how  the  south-west  boundary  of  the  present  Crofts  compare  with 
the  probable  south-west  boundary  of  the  original  Croft  furlong.  Marked  on  the  plan  (Fig  2) 
with  bold  broken  lines  are  the  boundaries  before  enclosure  of  the  common  or  moor  of  the 
township,  with  ( 1 ) the  Girnol  Field  and  (2)  the  Croft  Field.  Also  marked,  but  with  a bold  dot- 
and-dash  broken  line,  is  the  boundaiy  between  the  Croft  and  Broad  Fields  as  indicated  by 
the  enclosure  award,  but  with  one  exception.  The  enclosure  award  includes  the  close 
(OS  231/117)  as  part  of  the  Broad  Field.  However  the  plan  includes  it  in  the  Croft  Field  in  the 
belief  that  this  close  would  originally  have  been  part  of  the  Croft  Field  and  would  have  been 
transferred  to  the  Broad  Field  only  on  becoming  detached  from  the  rest  of  the  Croft  Field 
when  the  individual  Croft  lands  where  allotted  to  the  tenements  of  the  planned  settlement.  It 
is  perhaps  surprising  that  the  furlong  immediately  to  the  north-east  of  the  main  block  of  the 
Crofts  is  indicated  by  the  enclosure  award  as  being  in  the  Broad  Field  (as  do  the  furlongs 
beyond  it),  and  no  explanation  is  currently  offered  for  this. 

It  is  therefore  tentatively  suggested  that  the  original  boundary  between  the  Croft  furlong 
and  the  common  or  moor  to  the  south-west  would  have  followed  a line  from  the  western 
corner  of  the  close  ( OS  231/117)  through  the  middle  of  the  planned  settlement  to  the junction 
of  the  common  or  moor  with  the  Croft  Field  at  the  south-east  end  of  the  settlement.  This 
boundary  is  marked  on  the  plan  by  a thin  straight  line.  No  evidence  on  the  ground  has  been 
found  for  this  conclusion  but  perhaps  this  is  scarcely  surprising,  bearing  in  mind  that  any 
headland  would  probably  have  been  removed  as  the  development  of  the  new  settlement 
proceeded,  and  certainly  there  is  no  reason  to  think  that  the  line  was  necessarily  straight. 


Back  lanes  are  frequently  encountered  with  planned  villages  in  North  Yorkshire  (a  good 
example  is  Stillington,  a double-row  settlement,  each  row  facing  on  to  the  Green  and  each 
with  its  own  back  lane),  so  there  is  nothing  surprising  in  finding  the  Back  Lane  at  Flaxton. 
However,  Flaxton  Back  Lane  does  not  conform  to  the  usual  pattern,  in  that  it  goes  nowhere. 
At  its  north-west  end  it  terminates  abruptly  at  the  broad  ridge-and-furrow  of  the  close  (OS 
231  & 117),  mentioned  above,  which  runs  from  the  back  of  the  Crofts  through  to  the  Green 
and  which  helped  define  the  north-west  extremity  of  the  planned  settlement.  It  is  interesting 
that,  at  enclosure,  four  specific  freeholders  were  granted  rights  of  access  over  this  close  from 
the  Green  to  the  Back  Lane;  confirming,  as  the  grant  does,  that  there  was  no  general  village 
right  of  way  beyond  the  end  of  the  Back  Lane.  At  the  south-east  end  the  Back  Lane  also 



terminates  at  the  open  field  (no  extant  ridge-and-furrow),  being  cut  off  by  a flat  in  the  Croft 
Field,  already  part  of  the  vicar’s  glebe  before  enclosure,  and  allotted  to  him  at  enclosure. 
Thus  the  only  access  to  the  Back  Lane,  other  than  from  the  garths  to  one  side  and  the  Crofts 
to  the  other,  is  along  the  narrow  lane  now  known  as  Barney  Lane,  part  of  the  erstwhile  Plot 
17.  There  are  two  further  peculiarities  about  the  Back  Lane  which,  taken  together,  make 
some  form  of  sense.  The  first  is  that  the  ridge-and-furrow  in  the  Crofts  terminates  at  the 
Back  Lane  with  no  evidence  of  any  headland  (The  Belt  croft,  mentioned  earlier,  in  Hugh’s 
section  of  the  settlement,  does  indeed  have  a headland  immediately  on  the  north-east  side  of 
the  Back  Lane.  However  the  lands  in  the  Crofts  to  either  side  of  it  extend  right  to  the  Back 
Lane;  perhaps  indicating  that  this  Croft  continued  under  the  plough  after  the  creation  of  the 
Back  Lane,  resulting  in  the  need  for  its  own  new  headland).  The  second  is  that  there  is 
intermittent  evidence  on  the  ground,  for  the  north-western  half  of  the  Back  Lane,  of  what 
appears  to  be  a former  headland  still  existing,  close  to,  but  on  the  south-west,  or  wrong,  side 
of  the  Lane.  The  extent  of  its  presence  is  marked  by  a broken  line  on  the  plan.  However,  it 
will  be  realised  that,  if  the  suggestion  at  the  end  of  the  previous  paragraph  is  correct,  this 
headland  cannot  be  the  original  headland  of  the  Croft  furlong,  as  this  would  have  been 
appreciably  further  to  the  south-west.  To  solve  this  problem  it  is  suggested  that  the  headland 
under  discussion  was  formed  after  the  planned  settlement  had  been  imposed  on  the  south- 
western part  of  the  Croft  furlong,  but  subsequently  became  superfluous  when  it  was  decided, 
for  whatever  reason,  to  create  the  present  Back  Lane.44 

The  conclusion  is  that  the  Back  Lane  at  Flaxton  was  created  at  a time  when  both  the  open 
fields  and  the  planned  settlement  already  existed;  a back  lane  going  nowhere  and  laid  out  on 
top  of  the,  by  then,  already  shortened  lands  of  the  Croft  furlong.  This  would  have  provided 
the  occasion  to  create  Barney  Lane  at  the  expense  of  Plot  17  (the  occupier  of  Plot  17  might 
have  been  compensated  by  being  provided  with  a new  plot  between  the  chapel  complex  and 
the  Firtree  House  plot)  in  order  to  provide  access  to  the  Back  Lane  from  the  Green.  There 
are  two  further  conclusions:  (1)  that  the  planned  single-row^  settlement  is  later  than  the  open- 
field  system,  and  (2)  that,  after  the  creation  of  the  Back  Lane,  the  Crofts,  with  the  one 
exception  of  the  Belt  croft,  were  taken  out  of  arable  cultivation  and  laid  down  to  grass, 
remaining  as  such  thereafter;  otherwise  a third  headland  would  have  been  required. 


The  Green  at  Flaxton  is  in  the  shape  of  an  inverted  and  reversed  L,  with  the  foot  of  the  L, 
known  as  the  Kell,  being  at  the  north-west  end  of  the  settlement  and  extending  to  the  west. 
The  foot  of  the  L,  together  with  that  part  of  the  upright  of  the  L from  which  it  springs,  is 
beyond  what  it  has  been  concluded  above  is  the  north-west  end  of  the  original  planned 
settlement  but  adjoins  the  former  boundary  of  the  Girnol  Field. 

The  first  known  specific  reference  to  the  word  ‘Green’  at  Flaxton  is  not  until  well  after 
enclosure.  However,  there  is  mention  in  a will  of  1601, 57  years  before  the  enclosure  award, 
of  ‘gates’,  or  grazing  rights,  going  with  a particular  house  in  the  village;  and  subsequent  to 
enclosure  there  were  34  such  gates  on  the  Green.  It  is  not  known  whether  the  gates  in  the 
will  of  1601  related  to  grazing  rights  on  the  Green  or  on  the  common  or  moor  at  large.45 

44  C.  C.  Taylor,  Personal  communication. 

45  BI,  MIC  28/529. 



The  reason  for  the  existence  of  the  Kell  may  lie  with  the  watering  of  stock.  There  are  three 
ponds  on  the  Green,  roughly  equidistant  from  each  other;  one  to  the  South-east  of  the 
Chapel  complex,  one  next  to  the  junction  of  the  Green  with  the  York  Road  and  the  third  at 
the  toe-end  of  the  Kell.  Perhaps,  before  enclosure,  the  last  had  been  an  ancient  pond  serving 
the  adjoining  part  of  the  Common,  and  so  could  have  been  dispensed  with  after  enclosure 
but  was  allowed  to  remain,  with  the  Green  being  extended  to  encompass  it,  to  serve  the 
stock  grazing  the  Green  at  that  end  of  the  settlement.  This  thinking  is  strengthened  by  the 
fact  that  the  enclosure  award  allotted  to  John  Bell,  the  allottee  of  the  close  (OS  231/117) 
mentioned  above,  a small  parcel  of  the  common  at  the  end  of  the  close  to  compensate  him  for 
the  rights  of  way  granted  under  the  award  to  the  four  other  freeholders  mentioned  above 
and,  until  this  parcel  was  developed  for  housing  in  recent  years,  it  contained  a pond  (see  Fig. 
2,  p71).  This  suggests  that  the  Kell  and  its  pond  may  have  been  reserved  out  of  the  enclosure 
of  the  common  and  added  to  the  Green  to  replace  the  pond  lost  to  the  graziers  when  it  and 
the  adjoining  land  was  added  to  John  Bell’s  close  (OS  231/117). 

One  further  point  arises.  A study  of  the  plan  shows  clearly  a hotchpotch  of  housing  and 
other  buildings  in  the  area  to  the  north-west  of  the  Firtree  House  plot.  The  enclosure  award, 
while  allotting  a parcel  of  land  out  of  the  common  adjoining  this  area,  made  no  requirement 
for  its  hedging  against  the  Green,  whereas  all  the  other  enclosures  which  adjoined  the  Green 
contained  such  a requirement.  The  implication  is  that  by  the  time  of  enclosure  this  area  had 
already  been  developed  and  in  some  manner  fenced  off  from  the  common  or  moor. 

The  south-west  boundary  of  the  Green,  apart  from  where  it  is  interrupted  by  the  presence 
of  the  chapel  complex,  the  Firtree  House  enclosure  and  the  development  referred  to  in  the 
last  paragraph,  is  to  all  intents  a straight  line  which  rather  suggests  that  it  was  created  at  the 
time  of  the  enclosure  award.  However,  it  may  well  be  that  the  Green,  though  not  known  as 
such,  and  without  the  Kell,  existed  from  much  earlier  times,  even  if  its  boundary  with  the 
rest  of  the  common  was  no  more  than  a ditch  or  dead  hedge;  the  line  being  straightened  at 


It  will  be  observed  from  a study  of  the  plan  that  these  two  elements  of  the  settlement  lie  at 
a distinct  angle  to  the  single-row  settlement,  the  orientation  of  their  frontages  being  closer  to 
north-south.  Further,  the  frontage  of  the  Firtree  House  plot  is,  at  its  closest,  no  more  than  50 
feet  (15  metres)  from  the  frontage  opposite;  a very  small  distance  when  compared  to  the 
width  of  the  Green.  Why,  given  the  presence  of  the  Green  and  the  open  space  of  the  common 
or  moor  of  Flaxton  beyond,  should  the  creators  of  the  chapel  complex  and  the  Firtree  House 
plot  have  placed  them  so  close  to  the  existing  planned  settlement?  Perhaps  the  answer  is  that 
they  did  not  do  so,  but  that  the  chapel  complex  and  the  Firtree  House  plot  were  already 
present,  as  part  of  an  earlier  unplanned  settlement,  when  the  single-row  settlement  was 
created;  and  the  reason  that  the  new  settlement  was  positioned  so  close  to  the  existing 
property  was  in  order  not  to  encroach  unnecessarily  upon  the  Croft  furlong,  while  still 
providing  an  adequate  area  of  garth  behind  the  houses,  with  the  change  of  orientation  being 
to  align  the  new  settlement  at  right  angles  to  the  lands  in  the  Croft  furlong. 

The  last  above  is  the  conclusion  reached  and,  accordingly,  the  order  of  events  becomes: 

(1)  The  creation  of  the  Croft  Field  (probably  including  the  other  three  fields),  with  an 



‘ unplanned ' settlement,  including  the  chapel  complex  and  Firtree  House  plot,  lying 
immediately  to  the  south-west  of  the  original  boundary  of  the  Croft  furlong 

(2)  The  creation  of  the  Girnol,  Broad  and  South  Fields  by  assarting  (if  indeed  they  were 
later  than  the  Croft  Field) 

(3)  The  demolition  of  the  'unplanned'  settlement  followed  immediately  by  the  creation  of 
the  planned  single-row  settlement,  in  part  overlying  the  south-west  part  of  the  Croft  furlong, 
probably  with  its  Green  (though  the  latter's  present  south-west  boundary  might  not  have 
been  precisely  as  now)  followed  over  the  years  by  the  formation  of  a new  headland  for  the 
shortened  Croft  furlong 

(4)  The  creation  of  the  Back  Lane  and  Barney  Lane,  dispensing  with  the  need  for  the 
headland,  and  the  allotment  of  the  remains  of  the  Croft  furlong  to  the  individual  tenements 
across  the  Back  Lane. 

There  is  little  or  no  direct  evidence  as  to  dating.  The  first  conclusion,  reached  earlier  in 
this  section,  was  that  the  open-field  system  was  more  likely  to  have  been  in  place  by  Domesday 
and,  indeed,  by  the  Conquest,  than  later.  What  about  a date  for  the  single-row  planned 
settlement?  The  fact  that  the  ten  plots  relating  to  the  king’s  holding  have  been  identified  at 
the  end  of  section  (3)  as  being  in  two  separate  blocks  of  six  and  four  respectively,  separated 
by  the  six  Foston  plots,  suggests  that  the  settlement  was  planned  in  the  time  of  the  three 
thanes  and  not  the  king;  as  otherwise  one  would  have  expected  the  king’s  plots,  like  those  of 
the  other  Domesday  holdings,  to  be  grouped  together.  It  is  not  known  when  the  holdings  of 
the  thanes  were  forfeited  to  the  king  but  it  seems  improbable  that  the  thanes  were  still  in 
possession  after  the  Harrying  of  the  North  in  1069-70.  Accordingly  the  conclusion  is  that 
the  single-row  planned  settlement  dates  from  before  that  event  and  so  probably  from  before 
the  Conquest,  thus  confirming  the  early  dating  for  the  open-field  system.  As  it  has  already 
been  concluded  that  the  chapel  complex  and  the  Fir  Tree  House  plot  pre-date  the  planned 
settlement,  their  creation  must  also  be  placed  before  the  Conquest. 

There  is  no  evidence  relating  to  the  dating  of  the  Back  Lane  and  Barney  Lane.  However, 
as  it  will  no  doubt  have  taken  many  decades  to  create  a substantial  new  headland  following 
the  creation  of  the  single-row  settlement  overlying  a part  of  the  Croft  furlong,  the  conclusion 
is  that  they  are  likely  to  post-date  the  Domesday  survey  of 1086. 


Considered  overall,  the  conclusion  must  be  that  on  the  ground  and  in  the  settlement  the  township 
of  Flaxton  remained  remarkably  unchanged  from  before  the  Conquest  through  to  enclosure  in 
1658.  The  fact  that,  apart  from  the  holding  of  Hugh  son  of  Baldric,  the  entire  township  came  early 
into  the  hands  of  several  religious  foundations  may  partly  account  for  this  stability. 


The  author  would  not  have  achieved  this  article  without  the  help,  much  needed,  of  the  librarians 
and  staff  of  the  York  Minster  Library,  the  Borthwick  Institute  and  the  City  of  York  Reference 
Library,  and  of  the  Archive  Services  of  North,  East  and  West  Yorkshire  in  Northallerton,  Beverley 
and  Leeds  respectively.  He  also  wishes  to  acknowledge  the  very  considerable  help  given  by  Christopher 
Taylor  in  correspondence  with  thoughts  regarding  the  relationship  of  one  tenement  to  two  oxgangs, 
the  sequence  of  the  strips  in  the  fields  following  the  sequence  of  tenements  in  the  settlement  and, 



more  particularly,  the  layout  of  and  the  sequence  of  events  relating  to  the  planned  settlement  and 
the  Croft  furlong.  He  is  also  grateful  to  Professor  David  Palliser  for  providing  time  for  discussion 
relating  to  the  complex  subject  of  Domesday  bovates  and  their  relationship  to  later  tenurial  oxgangs. 
finally  he  wishes  to  acknowledge  the  work  of  Dr  Nick  Barratt  in  translating  and  transcribing 
numerous  documents  at  what  was  then  the  Public  Record  Office.  However,  the  text  and  the  erection 
of  this  4-storied  house  of  cards  are  entirely  the  work  of  the  author.  Professor  Dyer  writes:  ‘The  debate 
about  the  origin  of  villages  has  to  be  conducted  in  terms  of  probabilities  ...’.  How  true.46 

C.  Dyer:  Everyday  Life  in  Medieval  England,  (Hambledon  and  London,  1994),  p.xiv. 


Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 





Lawrence  Butler 

This  report  discusses  archaeological  work  in  two  of  the  five  Anglican  dioceses  in  Yorkshire, 
indicating  the  nature  of  the  opportunities  and  the  extent  of  the  recording.  Nearly  all  the 
work  at  60  different  churches  has  been  small-scale  intervention,  individually  modest  but 
cumulatively  important.  The  large-scale  excavations  (Hickleton,  Kellington,  Royston, 
Stain  burn)  are  still  unpublished  10-30  years  after  they  were  first  undertaken.  Although  more 
work  is  being  commissioned  from  professional  archaeological  units,  most  of  it  disappears 
into  the  (gi'ey  literature  \ thereby  failing  to  stimulate  local  interest.  The  work  at  three  buildings 
(Wakefield  Cathedral,  Little  Ouseburn,  Gilling  West)  is  sufficiently  significant  or  diverse  to 
merit  fuller  publication  here. 


This  report  is  a sequel  to  the  article  published  in  an  earlier  volume  ( 1/1/64  (1992),  203- 
9).  There  is  no  need  to  repeat  the  statistics  concerning  the  distribution  of  medieval  churches 
within  the  two  dioceses  as  that  has  not  changed.  The  main  emphasis  is  that  in  Ripon  the 
proportion  of  medieval  churches  is  greater  in  the  north  of  the  diocese  beyond  the  Wharfe, 
whilst  in  Wakefield  the  proportion  is  higher  in  the  east  beyond  Pontefract.  Elsewhere  in  the 
more  highly  urbanised  or  industria  lised  areas  there  was  a much  greater  proportion  of  Victorian 

Over  the  past  decade  there  has  been  an  increase  of  state  aid  to  churches  and  cathedrals. 
There  has  also  been  an  accompanying  increase  in  legislation  and  guidance.1  The 
appropriateness  of  the  “ecclesiastical  exemption”  whereby  the  churches  monitor  their  own 
planning  applications  for  fabric  repairs  and  interior  changes  through  legislation,  committees 
and  ecclesiastical  consistoiy  courts  has  occasionally  been  raised,  but  the  system  continues 
to  work  efficiently.  At  a more  local  level  the  archaeological  units  in  the  metropolitan  counties 
have  been  active  in  conducting  and  promoting  church  archaeology,  operating  in  conjunction 
with  the  diocesan  archaeological  officers.  This  has  been  particularly  evident  in  West 
Yorkshire,  where  an  excavation  was  conducted  at  Tong  (B;  W.R.)  and  a survey  made  of 

1 C.  Bianco,  “Legislation  and  Management  in  England  and  Wales”,  in  J.  Blair  and  C.  Pyrah  (eds.), 
Church  Archaeology:  Research  Directions  for  the  Tuture  (C.B.A.  Research  Report  104;  London, 
1996),  pp.  182-188.  More  recent  legislation  and  guidance  is  summarised  in:  English  Heritage,  New 
Work  in  Historic  Places  of  Worship  (London,  2003),  15  pp.  Also  helpful  is  S.  Mays,  Guidance  for  best 
practice  for  treatment  of  human  remains  excavated  from  Christian  burial  grounds  in  England 
(English  Heritage:  London  2005),  54  pp. 



medieval  church  structures  in  the  new  county.2  In  South  Yorkshire  a dozen  parishes  lie 
within  Wakefield  diocese,  but  no  excavation  has  been  conducted  within  the  diocese.  The 
work  at  Hickleton  (S;  W.R.)  is  noted  below.  However  some  valuable  survey  work  was 
undertaken  before  the  archaeological  unit  was  disbanded.3  Another  development  which 
could  well  be  followed  in  this  area  is  the  publication  of  illustrations  of  medieval  and  later 
churches  before  their  Victorian  restoration.  Some  were  included  in  the  West  Yorkshire 
survey  of  1993,  but  the  York  Archaeological  Trust  has  issued  a separate  monograph  for  the 
medieval  churches  in  York.4 5  In  the  diocese  of  Ripon  Kirk  drew  attention  to  three  volumes  of 
church  views  (drawings,  water  colours,  engravings  and  photographs)  compiled  before  1888 
then  at  the  Church  Institute  in  Leeds,  but  later  in  Ripon  Cathedral  Library^;  it  is  most 
unfortunate  that  those  volumes,  assembled  from  1836  onwards,  have  lost  over  a quarter  of 
their  contents  by  unauthorised  removals  since  Kirk  made  his  catalogue. 

In  general  terms  church  archaeologists  have  responded  well  to  the  need  to  record  promptly 
those  changes  to  fabric  and  fittings  discussed  in  the  Diocesan  Advisoiy  Committees  and  put 
into  operation  by  faculty  legislation  or  by  archdeacons’  certificates.  Less  predictable  have 
been  changes  occasioned  by  the  hazards  of  fire  or  theft.  There  have  been  minor  cases  of 
arson  and  of  damage  to  stained  glass  by  vandalism.  Theft  has  affected  some  fittings  (see 
below,  p. 92). Storm  damage,  such  as  the  lightning  strike  in  March  1998  upon  the  spire  of 
Garforth  (R;  W.R.),  has  been  repaired  promptly. 

Finally  the  decision  to  rename  Ripon  Diocese  as  “Ripon  and  Leeds”  fails  to  appreciate  the 
origins  of  the  diocese.6  Except  for  Sodor  and  Man  the  dioceses  in  England  have  been  named 
from  the  cathedral  church(es)  and  not  from  a district  or  a non-cathedral  city.  Since  the 
grounds  for  renaming  are  based  on  the  respective  importance  and  population  of  Leeds  as 
opposed  to  the  “little-known”  Ripon,  it  remains  to  be  seen  whether  this  precedent  will  be 
followed  by  more  instances  of  renaming,  such  as  Chichester  and  Brighton,  Winchester  and 
Southampton,  Ely  and  Cambridge,  Southwell  and  Nottingham,  or  Durham  and  Gateshead. 

2 Peter  Ryder,  Medieval  Churches  of  West  Yorkshire  ([Wakefield]  1993).  The  West  Yorkshire 
Archaeological  Service  has  also  published  Peter  Ryder,  Medieval  Cross  Slab  Grave  Covers  in  West 
Yorkshire  (1991)  and  a number  of  church  guide  leaflets.  For  ease  of  reference  to  the  volumes  of 
Pevsner  (Buildings  of  England  series)  and  ofj.  E.  Morris  (Little  Guides)  all  churches  are  identified 
by  the  initial  letters  of  both  diocese  (Bradford,  Ripon,  Sheffield,  Wakefield,  York)  and  of  former 
county  (North  Riding,  West  Riding,  East  Riding). 

3 The  South  Yorkshire  Archaeology  Committee  sponsored  surveys  of  Saxon  churches  and  of  medieval 
stained  glass:  Peter  Ryder,  Saxon  Churches  in  South  Yorkshire  (Barnsley,  1982);  Brian  Sprakes,  The 
Medieval  Stained  Glass  of  South  Yorkshire  (Oxford,  2003). 

4 Barbara  Wilson  and  Frances  Mee,  The  Medieval  Parish  Churches  of  York:  the  pictorial  evidence 
(York,  1998). 

5 G.  E.  Kirk,  “A  Catalogue  of  Illustrations  of  Churches  in  the  undivided  Diocese  of  Ripon”,  Y.  A.J., 
33  (1938),  199-214.  The  volumes  are  now  in  the  Special  Collections  of  the  Brotherton  Library,  Leeds 

6 P.  S.  Morrish,  “Leeds  and  the  Dismemberment  of  the  Diocese  of  Ripon”,  Publications  of  the 
Thoresby  Society,  2nd  series,  4 for  1993  (1994),  62-97.  There  were  attempts  to  create  a separate 
diocese  of  Leeds  in  1851  and  in  1908,  and  to  transfer  the  see  to  Leeds  in  1922. 




One  great  advantage  of  work  in  churches  is  that  there  is  always  a long  gestation  period 
when  plans  are  discussed,  amenity  bodies  are  consulted  and  alternative  solutions  proposed. 
This  gives  plenty  of  time  for  preliminary  documentary  research  or  for  structural  survey 
ahead  of  excavation.  Two  modest  excavations  were  undertaken,  both  by  the  West  Yorkshire 
Archaeological  Service.  At  Normanton  during  1991  in  advance  of  re-ordering,  a new  floor 
was  installed  and  old  pavements  and  steps  were  removed.  The  main  discovery  was  that  the 
pillar  bases  rested  on  individual  stone  footings  surrounded  by  clay.  There  was  insufficient 
evidence  to  indicate  the  extent  of  the  presumed  aisleless  nave  of  the  11th  century  or  earlier. 
The  collapse  of  the  Victorian  pavement  in  the  south  aisle  of  Wakefield  Cathedral  provided 
the  opportunity  during  1995  to  assess  the  stability  of  the  aisle  interior  before  the  pavement 
was  re-laid  and  the  pew  platform  re-instated.  Although  it  was  known  that  the  arrangement  of 
the  pews  and  the  aisle  paving  was  the  result  of  Scott’s  restoration  in  1858-74,  it  was  anticipated 
that  evidence  for  an  earlier  and  narrower  south  aisle  would  be  found  in  excavation,  following 
the  hypothesis  of  Micklethwaite,  accepted  by  Walker.7  This  should  reveal  the  aisle  served  by 
the  14th-century  piers  before  the  external  aisle  walls  of  the  late  15th-century  were  built.  A 
north-south  trench  from  the  aisle  paving  to  the  south  wall  failed  to  find  any  evidence  for  an 
earlier  wall,  suggesting  either  that  the  aisle  was  very  much  narrower  than  postulated  or  that 
the  presumed  wall  had  been  completely  removed  by  internal  burials.  It  was  less  likely  that 
the  aisle,  first  of  the  early  13th  century  and  then  of  the  mid  14th  century,  was  of  the  same 
width  as  the  existing  south  aisle.8  (APPENDIX  A) 

The  value  of  making  a careful  record  when  plaster  is  stripped  from  walls  during  repairs 
or  before  repointing  has  been  shown  at  Darrington  (W;  W.R.)  and  Little  Ouseburn  (R;  W.R.). 
At  the  former  a window  on  the  north  side  of  the  tower  in  the  embracing  north  aisle  (now  a 
vestry)  was  unblocked  and  displayed  an  early  13th-century  floral  painting  of  a delicately 
curling  tendril  spray  on  the  west  reveal;  an  aumbry  in  the  south  wall  of  the  chancel  was 
exposed.  At  Little  Ouseburn  the  chancel  was  stripped  of  Victorian  plaster  and  showed  two 
layers  of  late  16th-  and  17th-century  texts  in  Gothic  black  letter.  All  were  fragmentary  and  no 
complete  word  was  readable.  Such  texts  have  been  found  in  similar  plaster  stripping  at  Tong 
or  under  layers  of  whitewash  at  Wharram  Percy  (Y;  E.R.).9  However  the  repointing  of  the 
east  window  of  the  south  aisle  exposed  two  re-used  Anglo-Saxon  cross  fragments  with  a 
standing  figure  of  tenth-century  character.  (APPENDIX  B) 

A large  number  of  minor  repairs  and  routine  maintenance  occurred;  wherever  possible 
the  upper  levels  of  the  fabric  were  inspected  from  scaffolding.  This  gave  the  opportunity  to 

7J.  T.  Micklethwaite,  “On  the  Growth  of  the  Fabric  of  All  Saints  Church,  Wakefield  AD  1100-1530”, 
in  J.  W.  Walker,  The  History  of  the  Old  Parish  Church  of  All  Saints,  Wakefield  (W  akefield,  1888),  pp. 
36-48,  figures  1-7.  Later  revised  inj.  W.  Walker,  Wakefield,  its  History  and Teop/e  (Wakefield,  1934), 
chapter  IX. 

8 Author’s  Report  to  Wakefield  Cathedral  Fabric  Advisory  Committee  (February  1995);  A.  Francis, 
“Wakefield  Cathedral:  Watching  Brief  in  the  South  Aisle”,  WYAS  Report  226  (limited  circulation, 
February  1995) 

9 Tong:  P.  Ryder,  Medieval  Churches  (as  note  2),  127;  Wharram  Percy:  Wharram  III  - The  Church 
of  St.  Martin , eds  R.  D.  Bell,  M.  W.  Beresford  and  others  (Society  for  Medieval  Archaeology 
Monograph  11:  London,  1987),  134-7. 



inspect  and  record  the  interiors  and  exteriors  of  overlap  Saxo-Norman  towers,  as  at  Gilling 
West  (R;  N.R.),  Hornby  (R;  N.R.)  and  Kippax  (R;  W.R.)  or  external  heraldry,  as  at  Burneston 
(R;  N.R)  and  Richmond  St.  Maiy  (R;  N.R.).  The  use  of  tufa  as  packing  material  around  the 
Norman  tympanum  in  the  tower’s  west  doorway  at  Hornby  parallels  the  recycling  of  this 
stone  from  Roman  structures  observed  in  Northamptonshire.10  The  value  of  close  examination 
has  also  been  shown  in  recording  masons’  marks  as  a guide  to  building  practices  and  the 
progress  of  construction.11 

In  the  previous  report  mention  was  made  of  four  substantial  excavations  at  churches  and 
one  at  a cathedral.  It  is  a pleasure  to  note  that  the  work  at  Tong  (B;  W.R.)  has  now  been 
published,12  and  that  the  report  on  the  1974  excavation  in  Wakefield  Cathedral  is  included 
below  (APPENDIX  A).  However  it  is  regrettable  that  the  works  at  Hickleton  (S;  W.R.), 
Royston  (W;  W.R.)  and  Kellington  (W;  W.R.)  have  not  yet  received  final  publication,  though 
Kellington  has  had  fairly  full  interim  reports  and  some  aspects  of  its  methodology  have  been 
published.  The  unpublished  work  on  the  redundant  church  at  Stainburn  (R;  W.R.)  showed 
that  there  was  no  evidence  for  a church  earlier  than  the  twelfth  century,  though  close  scrutiny 
of  the  fabric  revealed  many  subsequent  changes  to  door  and  window  openings.  The  late 
medieval  porch  had  a dedicatoiy  inscription.  The  earliest  churchyard  memorial  was  a table 
tomb  of  late  16th-century  character.  Survey  of  the  churchyard  boundary  showed  different 
periods  of  expansion  and  re-alignment.  The  archive  material,  notebooks,  plans  and 
photographs  from  all  the  author’s  work  recorded  in  this  article  will  be  donated  to  the  Yorkshire 
Archaeological  Society. 


Any  disturbance  to  the  ground  and  fabric  is  potentially  destructive  to  the  archaeological 
evidence  which  that  ground  contains.  Excavation  such  as  diy  area  trenching  will  disturb  the 
relationship  between  the  structure  and  the  ground  on  which  it  stands  or  through  which  its 
foundation  trenches  have  been  cut.  A major  disturbance  of  this  nature  has  been  at 
Goldsborough  (R;  W.  R)  during  1996  where  the  tower  foundations  needed  to  be  strengthened. 
Excavation  showed  that  a tower  standing  100  ft.  (30  m.)  high  was  resting  on  boulder 
foundations  and  a base  course  only  24  ins.  (62  cm.)  deep;  there  was  no  evidence  for  a 
foundation  cut,  but  instead  the  earth  had  been  piled  back  around  the  foundation.  Elsewhere 

10  For  the  use  of  tufa  in  Anglo-Saxon  building:  D.  S.  Sutherland  and  D.  Parsons,  The  Petrological 
Contribution  to  the  Survey  of  All  Saints  church,  Brixworth,  Northamptonshire:  an  Interim  Account, 
Journal  of  the  British  Archaeological  Association,  137  (1984),  45-64,  esp.  53-54:  “Tufa  was  a stone 
much  favoured  by  the  Romans  for  vaulting  in  bath  houses”;  though  in  D.S.  Sutherland,  “Burnt 
Stone  in  a Saxon  church  and  its  implications”  in  D.  Parsons  (ed.),  Stone:  Quarrying  and  Building  in 
England  AD  43-1525 (Rochester,  1990),  102-113,  she  states  (p.  112)  “there  is  no  indication  that ...  the 
tufa  [at  Brixworth]...  is  secondhand”.  See  also  D.  Stocker  with  P.  Everson,  “Rubbish  Recycled:  a study 
of  the  re-use  of  stone  in  Lincolnshire”,  Parsons  (ed.),  Stone , 83-101,  and  T.  Eaton,  Plundering  the 
Past:  Roman  Stonework  in  Medieval  Britain  (Stroud,  2000) 

11  Ian  Roberts  “Bradford  Cathedral  Tower:  archaeological  recording  1993-4”,  Church  Archaeology, 
1 (1997),  42-43. 

12  P.  Ryder,  Medieval  Churches  (as  note  2),  118-132.  In  1997  new  paving  and  other  work  was 
proposed  for  Featherstone  church  (W;  W.R.)  after  the  organ  caught  fire  through  an  electrical  fault: 
this  was  a church  assessed  in  Ryder,  ibid,  106-117.  The  thoroughness  of  the  1880  restoration  has 
limited  any  opportunity  to  make  new  discoveries:  York,  Borthwick  Institute:  Faculty  1880/7. 



around  the  south  and  east  sides  of  the  church  it  was  clear  that  Scott’s  restoration  of  1859  had 
replaced  or  inserted  a plinth  around  the  church  and  had  underpinned  the  buttresses.  He  had 
also  renewed  the  chancel’s  south  doorway  which  he  then  blocked.  Debris  from  Victorian 
window  tracery  repair  was  also  noted,  indicating  that  stones  were  given  their  final  dressing 
on  site. 

Another  trench  cut  in  1995  to  alleviate  dampness  in  the  church  was  alongside  the  south 
chancel  chapel  at  Royston  (W;  W.R.).  This  revealed  that  four  small  Romanesque  nook  shafts 
had  been  used  as  part  of  the  foundation  course  below  the  ashlar  masomy  coursing.  A small 
late  medieval  window  head  was  used  to  repair  the  chapel’s  east  wall.  A dry  area  trench  was 
dug  around  the  tower  at  Catterick  (R;  N.R.)  and  was  proposed  around  the  chancel  of  Farnham 
(R;  W.R.)  where  Scott  had  undertaken  a thorough  restoration  in  1854;  financial 
considerations  have  caused  the  latter  work  to  be  postponed. 

The  provision  of  kitchens  and  toilet  facilities  in  the  church  was  the  reason  for  trenches 
cut  in  the  churchyards  at  Bardsey  (R;  W.R.),  Elland  (W;  W.R.),  Emley  (W;  W.R.),  Gilling  West 
(R;  N.R.),  Middleham  (R;  N.R.)  and  Spennithorne  (R;  N.R.).  The  only  significant  discovery 
was  at  Gilling  where  part  of  an  Anglo-Saxon  cross-head  was  found  in  disturbed  grave  earth 
north  of  the  church  (APPENDIX  C).  At  Emley  the  brick  debris  of  a former  vestry  and  the 
coal  dust  from  a former  fuel  store  were  found  on  the  north  of  the  chancel  when  four  drainage 
trenches  and  soakaway  pits  were  dug  around  the  church.  Soakaways  dug  at  Bolton-on-Swale 
and  Hornby  (both  R;  N.R.)  were  uninformative. 

The  introduction  of  new  electricity  cables  at  a number  of  churches  had  the  potential  to 
provide  information  about  structures  in  the  churchyard  or  about  any  earlier  churchyard 
wall  or  bank.  However  in  each  case  the  trench  was  too  narrow  and  shallow  to  provide  any 
useful  information.  At  Bedale,  Burneston,  Kirklington,  Pickhill  and  Wath  (all  R;  N.R.)  cables 
were  laid  to  permit  floodlighting  of  the  church;  the  cables  did  not  penetrate  beneath  the 
topsoil  and  the  light  fixings  did  not  disturb  any  existing  graves  or  headstones.  The  initiatives 
of  the  Churches  Floodlighting  Trust  has  considerably  increased  the  number  of  such  schemes 
over  the  past  decade.  A different  problem  occurred  at  East  Cowton  (R;  N.R.).  Here  the 
medieval  and  later  church  had  been  demolished  in  1989  after  standing  neglected  since  the 
new  church  was  built  in  1910.  The  old  graveyard  had  continued  in  use,  but  it  was  proposed 
that  the  site  of  the  old  church  should  now  be  used  for  burial.  In  order  to  preserve  the 
medieval  remains  intact  from  unnecessary  destruction  it  was  recommended  that  burial  took 
place  elsewhere  within  the  large  rectangular  churchyard  and  that  new  paths  were  laid  to 
serve  the  new  burial  area.  The  site  of  the  medieval  chapel  at  Winksley  (R;  W.R.)  was  identified 
within  the  existing  churchyard.  Survey  work  at  the  disused  medieval  church  and  churchyard 
beside  the  river  Greta  at  Brignall  (R;  N.R.)  has  been  published.13 


There  have  been  various  occasions  where  minor  works  have  given  the  opportunity  to 
record  features  temporarily  exposed.  The  tombs  are  discussed  chronologically.  At  Gilling 
West  (R;  N.R.)  the  arched  tomb  recess  in  the  south  aisle  wall  was  repaired  to  prevent  damp 
penetration  into  the  church.  This  gave  the  opportunity  to  lift  the  medieval  tomb  slab  and  to 

13  D.  Coggins  and  K.  J.  Fairless,  “The  Old  Church  of  St.  Mary,  Brignall,  near  Barnard  Castle”, 
Durham  Archaeological Journal , 17  (2003),  25-41. 



examine  the  tomb  base;  this  revealed  that  it  was  a Victorian  insert  and  did  not  fit  the  recess. 
It  is  likely  that  the  tomb  slab  was  found  when  the  new  north  aisle  was  built  in  1845  and  the 
present  arrangement  dates  from  that  restoration.  (APPENDIX  C)  The  two  tomb  slabs 
forming  benches  in  the  porch  were  most  probably  found  and  positioned  in  the  same  Victorian 
restoration.  At  this  same  restoration  the  tomb  of  Sir  Henry  Boynton  (died  1531 ) and  his  wife 
Isabella  had  been  dismantled,  and  the  tomb  slab  set  vertically  against  the  inner  north  aisle’s 
east  wall;  it  was  later  moved  close  to  the  west  tower  in  the  1899  restoration.  The  original 
tomb  base  lay  just  north  of  the  pulpit  and  was  demolished  to  allow  a new  pew  platform  to  be 
laid.  In  1999  when  it  was  intended  to  pave  this  area  an  opportunity  was  taken  to  record  the 
tomb  base.14 

At  Royston  (W;  W.R.)  it  was  noted  that  the  stringcourse  on  the  north  side  of  the  chancel 
was  incised  with  carvings  of  mason’s  tools  (hammer,  chisel)  on  its  upper  surface;  this  may  be 
part  of  a tomb  slab  but  is  more  likely  to  be  casual  carving.15  A full  study  was  made  at 
Goldsborough  (R;  W.R.)  when  the  two  fourteenth-century  tombs  in  the  chancel  were 
conserved,  revealing  medieval  figure  painting  on  the  side  panels  of  the  southern  tomb  and 
decorative  bands  on  the  base  of  the  northern  Both  tombs  had  been  dismantled  in 
Scott’s  restoration  of  1859.  At  Croft  (R;  N.R.)  renewal  of  the  timber  flooring  in  the  east  bay 
of  the  south  aisle  exposed  the  tomb  slab  to  Sir  John  Clervaux  (died  1443)  and  his  wife 
Margaret.17  The  dismantled  heraldic  side  panels  of  this  tomb  line  the  side  walls  of  the  chapel; 
the  lid  lay  above  the  vault.  The  tomb  chest  of  Sir  Richard  Clervaux  (died  1490)  was  centrally 
positioned  in  the  adjoining  bay  to  the  west. 

A table  tomb  of  the  sixth  earl  of  Shrewsbury  (of  1590)  in  Sheffield  Cathedral  (dismantled 
in  1975)  was  recorded  whilst  it  decayed  in  the  churchyard;  the  dismantled  heraldic  side 
panels  were  inspected  in  a mason’s  yard  in  York.18  The  value  of  recording  tomb  details 
during  conservation  was  shown  at  Stanwick  (R;  N.R.)  where  the  Smithson  tomb  chest  of 
1684-88  was  evidently  moved  in  Salvin’s  restoration  of  1868  from  a position  against  the 
south  aisle  south  wall,  with  three  exposed  sides,  to  its  present  location  in  the  south-east  angle 
of  that  aisle,  with  only  two  exposed  sides.  The  tomb  chest  contained  within  it  the  discarded 

14  The  report  by  Mr  Percival  Turnbull  has  been  submitted  to  Gilling  West  PCC  (5/2/1999). 

15  The  form  of  the  hammer  is  similar  to  that  on  a tomb  slab  at  Hamsterley:  P.  F.  Ryder,  The  Medieval 
Cross  Slab  Grave  Cover  in  County  Durham  (Durham  1985),  Hamsterley  (9),  pp.  35  (Fig.  8,  no.  5), 
38,  93,  and  Plate  35. 

16  Report  (p.  12)  in  B.  and  M.  Gittos,  “The  Conservation  of  the  Goldsborough  Effigies”,  Church 
Monuments , XII  (1997),  5-13. 

17  It  is  possible  to  correct  the  version  given  in  T.  D.  Whitaker,  History  of  Richmondshire  (London, 
1823),  I,  237  to  read  “[H]ic  iacet  J[oh’es]  Clarvaux  | [miles  qui  obiit  xiiii  Augusti  A’o  D’]ni  mccccxliii 
et  dn~a  m'gareta  ux  | or  ej  filia  Radi  lumli  militis  | et  nepos  Rad'o  nevil  po  cm'ti  W'stmni  q obt  xxo 
die  decmb..  | Ric’:  ej:  fili’:  hanc  t:u~ba:  fieri:  fecit”  and  to  translate  as  “Here  lies  Sir  John  Clarvaux 
who  died  14  August  1443,  and  Lady  Margaret  his  wife,  daughter  of  Sir  Ralph  Lumley  and  niece  of 
Ralph  Nevil  first  earl  of  Westmorland,  who  died  20  December.  Richard  his  son  caused  this  tomb  to 
be  made.”  I am  grateful  to  Mr  W.  D.  Chaytor  and  Professor  A.  J.  Pollard  for  help  with  this  tomb. 

18  L.  Butler  , “The  tombs  of  George,  sixth  earl  of  Shrewsbury,  in  Sheffield  Cathedral”,  Trans.  Hunter 
Arch.  Society ; 20  (1999),  52-61. 



side  panel  displaying  a heraldic  shield  and  the  sculptor’s  name  [William]  ‘Stanton  Fecit 
London’.19  During  repaving  at  Whixley  (R;  W.R.)  the  original  position  of  the  Tancred  tomb 
of  1734  was  recorded;  it  was  moved  to  a position  against  the  south  aisle  south  wall  in  Scott’s 
restoration  of  1862.  There  was  no  evidence  of  any  structures  earlier  than  the  present  church, 
but  it  was  clear  that  Scott  had  raised  the  floor  level  by  a foot  (30  cm.)  throughout  the  nave. 
The  recording  of  all  the  memorials  inside  and  outside  Wakefield  Cathedral  also  gave  an 
opportunity  to  assess  their  quality  and  to  note  the  different  materials  of  the  surviving  tombs.20 
At  Ackworth  (W;  W.R.)  and  Beeston  (R;  W.R.)  gravestones  concealed  under  timber  flooring 
were  recorded  whilst  temporarily  exposed. 

Two  vaults  were  recorded  during  the  past  decade.  The  more  extensive  was  the  Thompson 
vault  beneath  the  classical  mausoleum  at  Little  Ouseburn  (R;  W.R.).  The  mausoleum  had 
suffered  badly  from  stone  decay  and  structural  damage  after  the  lead  had  been  stolen  from  its 
roof.  A full  conservation  programme  during  1995-7  repaired  the  structure  standing  on  a 
grassy  mound  above  the  concealed  vault.  This  four-foot  ( 1 20  cm)  high  mound  was  composed 
of  earth,  rejected  stone,  brick  and  tile.  Details  of  the  24  inscription  plaques  recording 
burials  of  the  Thompsons  and  the  Crofts  between  1743  and  1910  and  the  location  of  the 
original  vault  doorway  (later  bricked  up)  were  recorded;  there  were  8 empty  spaces  but  a 
quarter  of  the  interior  was  not  utilised  for  coffin  spaces.21  At  the  same  church  alongside  the 
south  wall  of  the  chancel  there  was  uncovered  the  entrance  to  the  brick  built  vault  of  Edmund 
Robinson  of  ‘Thorpe  Greene’;  it  is  also  marked  by  a worn  sandstone  plaque  built  into  the 
south  wall  exterior.22 

Another  vault  was  discovered  during  routine  chancel  maintenance  at  Kippax  (R;  W.R.); 
this  was  to  the  Blands  of  Kippax  Park.  The  vault’s  internal  plan  and  the  six  tomb  inscriptions 
between  1791  and  1886  were  recorded;  11  spaces  were  unoccupied.  The  dry  conditions  had 
preserved  some  of  the  funeral  wreaths.  The  inscriptions  tallied  with  the  information  on  the 
wall  tablets  in  the  chancel. 


The  main  threat  to  historic  furniture  has  been  an  enthusiasm  for  liturgical  re-ordering. 
One  prominent  clergyman  (Richard  Giles,  vicar  of  Huddersfield  St.  Thomas,  now  Dean  of 

19  L.  Butler,  “The  Smithson  Monument  at  Stanwick,  North  Yorkshire”,  Church  Monuments,  XV 
(2000),  65-70.  A parallel  piece  of  recording  was  by  Peter  Ryder  of  the  medieval  cross-slab  grave 
covers  built  into  the  fabric,  of  which  those  in  the  south  porch  were  becoming  eroded  by  wind  and 
weather  (as  are  those  at  Forcett):  P.  Ryder,  “St.  John’s  Church,  Stanwick,  North  Yorkshire:  the 
medieval  cross  slabs”,  Church  Monuments , XVIII  (2002),  5-13. 

2(1  L.  Butler,  “The  Monuments  in  Wakefield  Cathedral”,  Church  Monuments , XIII  (1998),  106-9. 
There  have  previously  been  recording  exercises  in  the  churchyard,  conducted  by  West  Yorkshire 
Archaeological  Services,  in  1980  in  the  area  north  of  the  church  prior  to  the  building  of  Bishop 
Treacy  Memorial  Hall  and  in  1991-2  in  the  area  south  of  the  church  prior  to  the  extensive  landscaping 
and  paving. 

21  The  full  record  by  Mr  Helier  Hibbs  has  been  placed  with  the  parish  records.  The  coffins  were  not 
inspected  though  one  was  visible  where  the  stone  sealing  plaque  had  become  detached;  it  still  retained 
its  copper  coffin  inscription  plate. 

22  For  details  of  his  life  and  accidental  death  in  1869,  see  Peter  Holmes  in  Y.A.J.,  76  (2004),  206-8. 



Washington  Cathedral,  D.C.)  wrote  in  1995  “In  nearly  every  case,  a radical  and  bold  approach 
will  be  required  in  order  to  remove  unused  or  surplus  furniture  and  to  clear  space  within 
buildings  dating  from  previous  generations  of  Christian  thought  and  worship.  Teaching 
will  be  needed  on  the  nature  of  memorial  gifts  as  artifacts  at  the  disposal  of  the  living 
Church.”  23  Such  an  approach  would  see  medieval  stalls,  Jacobean  altar  tables,  Georgian 
pulpits  and  Victorian  choir  stalls  all  regarded  as  surplus  furniture,  preventing  “worshipping 
communities  from  experiencing  the  benefits  of  re-ordered  buildings”.  Fortunately  the 
mechanisms  of  diocesan  advisoiy  committees  seem  sufficiently  robust  to  withstand  or 
moderate  these  views.  Instead  of  damage  inflicted  from  within  the  Church  there  has  been 
some  damage  from  outsiders.  Theft  has  usually  been  opportunistic,  mainly  the  removal  of 
York  stone  paving  slabs  and  churchyard  coping  stones,  but  the  theft  of  the  medieval  lectern 
from  Methley  (R;  W.R.)(since  recovered)  and  the  bronze  door  closing  ring  from  Adel  (R; 
W.R.)  were  both  serious  losses  to  medieval  art.  The  theft  of  modern  church  silver  by  Omar 
Ramsden  from  Wakefield  cathedral  (W;  W.R.)  appears  to  have  been  more  carefully  targeted 
to  supply  art  collectors.  On  a happier  note  the  ' lost’  Anglo-Saxon  cross  fragment  from  High 
Hoyland  (W;  W.R.)  has  been  located;  it  had  been  taken  into  safe  keeping  by  a parishioner 
acting  when  the  church  was  declared  redundant  and  before  it  was  turned  into  a youth 
activity  centre. 


The  need  to  record  churchyard  memorials  has  usually  preceded  schemes  for  tidying  up  an 
overgrown  burial  ground,  as  at  Hartshead  (W;  W.R.),  Rothwell  and  Wortley  (both  R;  W.R.). 
In  those  three  cases  a large-scale  recording  programme  was  undertaken  by  the  parish  or  a 
local  history  group  and  the  diocesan  archaeologist  checked  the  accuracy  of  the  record.24 
This  was  also  done  in  a more  limited  area  at  Collingham  (R;  W.R.),  Birstall,  Cleckheaton 
White  Chapel,  Farnley  Tyas  and  Flockton  (all  W;  W.R)  ahead  of  planting  or  pathway  schemes 
(which  were  then  modified  to  protect  the  gravestones).  There  were  limited  actions  where 
the  repositioning  of  stones  improved  disabled  access  or  preceded  building  work,  as  at 
Garforth  and  Illingworth  (W;  W.R.).  Also  at  Garforth  (R;  W.R.)  further  research  was  needed 
to  ascertain  whether  the  new  parish  hall  on  the  south  of  the  church  would  impinge  upon  the 
outline  of  the  medieval  church.25  However  on  consulting  the  plans  of  the  church,  newly  built 

23  These  sentiments  are  developed  further  in  R.  Giles,  Re-pitching  the  Tent  (Norwich,  1996),  111-120, 
212-3.  He  quotes  approvingly  ‘When  asked  by  a DAC  to  consider  compromising  a situation  based 
on  the  concern  for  avoiding  change  ....  the  parish  should  address  the  Advisory  Committee,  through 
its  Chairman,  directly  on  the  question  of  whether  his  committee  is  a committee  of  the  Christian 
Church  or  an  outpost  of  the  Conservation  Movement’  Robert  Maguire,  The  Re-ordering  of  Churches: 
what  is  it  to  be  radical?  (Liturgy  North,  1996). 

24  T.  Cocke,  The  Churchyards  Handbook  (4th  Edition,  2003);  Harold  Mytum,  Recording  and 
analysing  graveyards  (CBA,  2000);  Peter  Butler,  Where  to  find  Recorded  Monumental  Inscriptions: 
Yorkshire  (North-East  Group  of  Family  History  Societies:  Brandesburton,  1996).  In  the  three  cases 
cited  here  the  record  was  lodged  both  in  the  parish  and  with  the  diocesan  office. 

25  York,  Borthwick  Institute:  Faculty  1844/3.  West  Yorkshire  Archive  Service:  YAS  Claremont,  Leeds 
MD  382/11  plan  of  Nov.  1843  by  George  Fowler  Jones.  Similar  assessments  had  previously  been 
conducted  at  Almondbury  and  Batley  (both  W;  W.R.)  in  advance  of  building  their  parish  halls  on 
shallow  foundations  to  the  north  of  the  church;  the  deeper  service  and  drainage  trenches  were 



in  1844,  it  was  clear  that  it  lay  immediately  over  its  predecessor  and  that  the  unusual  projection 
of  the  west  gable  of  the  nave  was  because  the  original  intention  had  been  to  retain  the 
medieval  west  tower.  Another  recording  task  has  been  the  detached  churchyard  at  Liversedge 
(W;  W.R.)  where  stones  were  repositioned  in  order  to  create  a new  car  park  for  worshippers. 
A long-term  programme  has  been  undertaken  at  Methley  (R;  W.R.)  where  the  area  around 
the  church  has  been  progressively  cleared  of  ‘illegible’  stones  to  allow  new  burial  to  take 
place  in  the  old  ground. 

A major  problem  has  been  the  aspect  of  health  and  safety  in  the  churchyard  where  decaying 
headstones  and  collapsing  table  tombs  can  attract  vandals  and  pose  risks  to  visitors.  Where 
a churchyard  has  been  ‘closed’  to  further  burial  and  has  been  transferred  to  the  local  authority 
for  care  and  maintenance,  then  it  is  possible  for  a management  regime  more  appropriate  to 
a modern  civic  cemetery  to  be  introduced  that  proves  to  be  unsympathetic  to  historic 
tombstones  and  destructive  of  wild  fauna  and  flora.  There  have  also  been  unsuccessful 
proposals  to  move  the  great  Anglo-Saxon  cross  at  Masham  (R;  N.R.)  within  the  church  for 
greater  protection  against  erosion.  Such  transfers  have  been  successful  at  Ilkley  (B;  W.R.)  - 
on  display  in  the  tower,  or  at  Hovingham  (Y;  N.R.)  - as  a focal  point  of  worship  in  the 
chancel.  Greater  protection  has  also  been  given  to  the  Anglo-Saxon  crosses  at  Dewsbury 
(W;  W.R.),  Rothwell  (R;  W.R.)  and  Thornton  Steward  (R;  N.R.).26 


Although  there  has  been  a steady  case-load  of  churches  considered  for  redundancy,  no 
medieval  church  has  fallen  into  this  category  recently  though  a number  of  spectacular 
Victorian  structures  by  nationally  famous  architects  have.  The  only  one  now  cared  for  by 
the  Churches  Conservation  Trust  (formerly  the  Redundant  Churches  Fund)  is  Christ  the 
Consoler  at  Skelton-cum-Newby  between  Boroughbridge  and  Ripon.  This  is  a major  work 
by  William  Burges  and  was  erected  in  1871-2  by  Lady  Mary  Vyner  in  memory  of  her  son.  The 
other  Burges  church  in  Yorkshire  is  even  finer:  it  is  St.  Mary  at  Studley  Royal  built  in  1871- 
8 for  the  Marchioness  of  Ripon.  This  church  is  now  in  the  care  of  English  Heritage  as  part 
of  the  Fountains  Abbey  estate.27 

The  Churches  Conservation  Trust  has  continued  to  care  for  and  repair  its  churches,  most 
recently  at  Coverham  and  Stanwick  (both  R;  N.R.).  It  has  also  issued  new  guidebooks  or 
revised  previous  ones.28  It  now  cares  for  nine  churches  in  Ripon  diocese  and  North  Yorkshire 
(3  in  former  North  Riding;  6 in  former  West  Riding);  2 in  Ripon  diocese  and  West  Yorkshire 
(former  West  Riding);  2 in  Wakefield  diocese  and  West  Yorkshire  (former  West  Riding). 
The  two  in  Wakefield  diocese  are  both  Victorian  churches:  Copley  by  W.  H.  Crossland  and 
All  Souls,  Haley  Hill,  Halifax  by  Scott. 

One  medieval  structure  for  which  a new  use  has  been  found  is  the  Hospital  chapel  of  St. 
Mary  Magdalene  in  Stonebridgegate,  Ripon;  it  is  now  an  architects’  office.  Another 

26  West  Yorkshire  Archaeological  Services  have  put  on  display  in  Dewsbury  church  a recently  found 
decorated  stone  fragment  which  may  have  been  the  side  arm  terminal  of  a priest’s  chair. 

27  Peter  Leach,  St  Mary’s  Church,  Studley  Royal  (English  Heritage  1981). 

28  The  most  recent  guidebooks  are  by  Henry  Stapleton,  St.  Mary’s  church,  Lead  (2000)  and  by 
Anthony  Barnes,  St.John  the  Baptist’s  church , Stanwick  (2001). 



redundancy  has  been  at  a village  chapel  in  Hunton  (R;  N.R.)  where,  apart  from  a little  re-used 
early  Victorian  woodwork,  the  present  structure  is  of  1894;  this  has  a new  domestic  future. 
The  medieval  chapel  of  St.John  with  its  chantry  of  St.  Edmund  was  on  a different  low-lying 
site  in  the  village. 


There  has  been  a steady  but  unspectacular  repair  programme  on  church  buildings  and  a 
desire  to  keep  the  churchyards  tidy.  No  sudden  disasters  have  occurred  in  this  region  on  the 
scale  of  the  arson  destruction  at  Brancepeth  (Durham)  or  the  bomb  damage  at  Manchester 
cathedral  and  St.  Ethelburga,  Bishopgate,  London.  The  main  problem  has  been  the  slowness 
in  publishing  major  work  of  the  1980s  and  the  disappearance  of  much  contract  archaeology 
work  into  the  ‘grey  literature’  thereby  hiding  it  away  from  all  but  the  most  determined 
researcher.  On  a positive  note  county  and  national  parks  archaeological  officers  are  far 
more  aware  of  rescue  and  recording  opportunities  at  ecclesiastical  sites;  parishes  now  regularly 
commission  archaeological  field  units  to  undertake  contract  work  for  them  as  part  of  the 
planning  process. 


This  article  could  not  have  been  written  without  the  kind  co-operation  over  the  past  decade  of  the 
various  members  of  the  two  advisory  committees,  especially  the  Chairmen,  the  Secretaries  (Ripon: 
Glyn  Royal,  Mrs.  Betty  Cartwright;  Wakefield:  (the  late)  Dr.  John  Addy  and  Dr.  Linda  Box),  the 
four  Archdeacons,  the  registrars  and  the  architects,  especially  Neil  Birdsall,  Denis  Greenwood, 
Peter  Hill,  (the  late)  Peter  Marshall,  Peter  Pace  and  Gerald  Wood.  During  the  period  under 
consideration  both  committees  have  had  a number  of  chairmen  and  all  four  archdeacons  have 
changed  through  promotion  or  retirement.  All  the  officers  have  been  continually  sympathetic  to  the 
archaeological  dimensions  of  ecclesiastical  and  architectural  history. 




The  following  report  on  the  1974  excavation  is  reproduced  with  permission  from  West  Yorkshire 
Archaeological  Services.  It  is  part  of  a longer  report  that  details  all  the  pieces  of  work  in  and  around 
the  cathedral  between  1974  and  1995,  all  under  the  direction  of  the  cathedral  architect,  Peter 
Marshall.  It  should  be  noted  that  the  presence  of  an  Anglo-Saxon  church  shown  on  Figure  2 is 
surmise  and  that  the  mentions  of  such  a church  by  Marshall  1975  and  Speak  & Forrester  1976  are 
based  on  Walker’s  view  that  remains  found  when  the  cathedral  was  extended  eastwards  in  1904  were 
of  Anglo-Saxon  date.  Walker  does  not  state  the  nature  of  the  remains  or  give  the  reason  why  he 
assigned  a pre-Conquest  date  to  them.  The  Anglo-Saxon  cross  was  found  reused  some  400  yards  east 
of  the  cathedral,  but  is  presumed  to  have  come  from  the  nearest  church  (W.G.  Collingwood,  YAJ,  20 
(1908-9),  185-6).  All  that  can  so  far  be  said  is  that  the  earliest  group  of  burials  found  in  1974  establish 
a strong  case  for  a burial  ground  preceding  the  church  of  circa  1 100  and  that  burial  1 24  with  a tenth- 
century  or  Late  Saxon  ring  is  the  strongest  evidence  for  a slightly  earlier  date.  Assuming  that  this 
ring  is  contemporary  with  the  burial  and  not  an  heirloom,  then  this  does  indicate  a Late  Saxon 
burial  ground. 

The  central  tower  shown  on  Figure  2 is  based  on  Micklethwaite’s  opinion;  there  are  other  possible 
explanations  for  the  masonry  observable  at  the  east  end  of  the  south  aisle.  There  is  no  evidence  for 
the  building  of  the  tower  detached  at  the  west  end  in  the  period  1315-1329  and  far  more  reason  from 
its  architecture  to  assign  it  to  the  period  1409-1420  with  the  western  bay  of  the  present  church  being 
built  circa  1430  to  link  the  new  tower  to  the  nave  previously  of  six  bays.  The  enlargements  of  the 
south  aisle  in  c.  1220  and  in  1315-1329  were  not  confirmed  in  the  excavation  of  1995. 



Archaeological  Investigations  at  Wakefield  Cathedral 

1974  - 1995 

By  A.C.  Swann  and  I.  Roberts 
with  a contribution  by  D.  Tweddle 

Between  1974  and  1995  development  and  remedial  works  within  the  church  and  precinct 
of  Wakefield  Cathedral  provided  the  opportunity  for  small-scale  archaeo-logical  investigations 
to  be  carried  out.  The  work,  in  the  form  of  trial  excavations  and  watching  briefs,  has 
established  the  presence  of  a number  of  early,  possibly  pre-Conquest,  burials.  One  of  the 
early  graves  yielded  a finger-ring  believed  to  be  of  Late  Saxon  date.  Also  revealed  were  the 
foundations  for  what  is  believed  to  be  the  smaller  l‘2h-centuiy  Norman  church.  The  finds 
assemblage  from  the  graves  and  grave  earth  suggest  that  many  of  the  interments  date  to  the 
17h-19h  century,  there  being  very  few  artefacts  of  medieval  date  recovered. 


Wakefield  Cathedral  lies  on  the  north  side  of  Kirkgate  in  the  commercial  centre  of  the 
modern  town  (Fig.  1;  SE  333  208).  It  is  flanked  to  the  north  by  Westmorland  Street,  to  the 

Fig.  1.  O.S.  Map  of  1952  showing  the  Vicar’s  Croft  burial  ground  (disused)  prior  to  the  widening 
of  the  Springs 



west  by  Northgate,  with  Teall  Street  to  the  east,  and  the  Kirkgate  precinct  to  the  south.  Until 
it  was  elevated  to  cathedral  status  in  1888  it  had  been  the  parish  church  of  All  Saints,  the 
product  of  several  phases  of  development  dating  from  the  medieval  period.  The  site  is 
probably  the  site  of  one  of  two  churches  recorded  in  Domesday  for  the  manor  of  Wakefield 
(Faull  1981b,  212).  This  notion  is  reinforced  by  its  early  dedication  to  All  Hallows,  a dedication 
typical  of  pre-Conquest  foundations  (Ryder  1993,  24).  Consequently,  it  could  well  have  been 
the  church  given  to  earl  Warenne  by  Wiliam  II  in  1088-91  (Walker  1888,  x,  1).  There  is  little 
tangible  evidence  of  any  Saxon  activity  on  the  site,  although  Marshall  (1975)  alludes  to 
fragments  of  a former  Saxon  building  being  found  during  19th  century  restoration  works. 
The  nature  of  this  evidence  is  unknown,  although  a Saxon  cross  dating  to  the  10th  century  is 
believed  to  have  once  stood  in  the  churchyard  (Speak  and  Forrester  1976,  3) 

A phased  development  of  the  church  from  pre-Conquest  times  was  postulated  in  1888  by 
J.T.  Micklethwaite  (Fig.  2).  There  has  been  little  change  to  his  proposed  development  of  the 
church  from  the  beginning  of  the  12th  century,  although  the  existence  of  a 9th-century  church 
is  conjectured.  The  supposed  development,  as  endorsed  by  both  Marshall  (1975;  see  also 
Speak  and  Forrester  1976,  11,  24-5)  and  more  recently  by  Ryder  (1993),  envisages  a 12th- 
century  cruciform-plan  church  with  a central  tower.  This  was  enlarged  in  cl  150  with  the 
addition  of  a narrow  north  aisle,  followed  by  the  addition  of  a slightly  wider  south  aisle  in 
cl220.  The  collapse  of  the  Norman  tower  in  c.1315  is  believed  to  have  prompted  the 
construction  of  a new  west  tower  between  c.1315-29.  This  was  followed  by  the  rebuilding  of 
the  whole  west  end  from  1409,  culminating  with  the  construction  of  a 247  ft  (75m)  high  spire 
in  1420  (Pevsner  1959,  520).  In  1458  the  aisles  were  widened  to  the  existing  ground  plan. 
Although  the  north  and  south  fronts  were  rebuilt  in  the  18th  century,  the  church  remained 
essentially  medieval  until  the  restoration  work  of  Sir  George  Gilbert  Scott  between  1858-74. 
The  final  phase  of  development  saw  the  extension  of  the  eastern  end  and  the  creation  of  a 
crypt  between  1898-1905. 

The  full  extent  of  the  churchyard  is  not  known.  It  is  shown  on  John  Walker’s  town  plan  of 
1823  to  have  been  trapezoidal  in  plan,  essentially  contained  by  the  courses  of  Kirkgate, 
Northgate  and  Westmorland  Street,  with  little  scope  for  burial  at  the  narrow  eastern  end.  It 
may  well  have  been  much  larger  at  one  time  and  have  suffered  encroachment  by  street 
widening  in  the  course  of  the  development  of  the  commercial  centre  since  the  medieval 
period.  In  this  respect  it  is  notable  that  in  the  19th  century  burials  were  located  in  the  cellar 
of  the  Raven  Public  House  in  Westmorland  Street,  to  the  north  of  the  cathedral.  By  the 
middle  of  the  18th  century  the  churchyard  is  recorded  as  being  ‘inconveniently  crowded’, 
prompting  the  opening  of  the  detached  Vicar’s  (or  Vicarage)  Croft  Burial  Ground  in  1815 
(Walker  1934,  540).  This  new  burial  ground  lay  a short  distance  to  the  north-east  of  the 
church  (Fig.  1). 


Early  in  1974  the  former  West  Yorkshire  Metropolitan  County  Rescue  Unit,  under  the 
direction  of  P.  Mayes,  was  invited  to  excavate  two  areas  (Areas  1 and  2;  Fig.  3)  at  the  east  end 
of  the  nave  where  the  central  aisle  floor  was  undergoing  repairs.  The  excavations  afforded 
the  opportunity  to  investigate  the  nature,  date  and  degree  of  preservation  of  the  underlying 
archaeological  deposits  in  this  part  of  the  cathedral,  and  the  possibility  that  they  might 



Fig.  2.  Phased  development  of  the  parish  church  to  the  mid- 15th  century.  Based  on  Micklethwaite  1888 



throw  additional  light  the  history  of  the  site.  To  date  only  very  summary  details  of  this 
investigation  have  been  published  (see  Thorp  1975,  Faull  1981a,  188,  Speak  and  Forrester 
1976,  4-5). 

AREA  1 (FIGS  3 AND  4) 

Area  1 measured  2.2m  by  5.2m  and  was  situated  in  the  seventh  bay  (from  the  west)  of 
south  aisle.  All  pews,  concrete  pew  seating  and  heating  pipes  were  initially  removed  by 
building  contractors.  Below  these  a layer  of  dry  sandy  soil  (100)  was  encountered.  The 
underlying  layers  (101  and  102),  sandy  loams  that  contained  a mixture  of  construction 
debris,  fragments  of  human  bone  and  mortar  probably  represented  a levelling  off  of  up-cast 
grave  earth.  Below  these  layers  a number  of  inter-linking  east-west  grave  cuts  were  apparent 
which  were  then  excavated  and  recorded.  Only  14  of  the  graves  produced  human  remains 
capable  of  full  skeletal  analysis,  although  some  32  individuals  were  represented  by  residual 
material  in  the  assemblage  as  a whole.  Fuller  details  are  in  the  archive  report. 

Due  to  the  dry  homogenous  nature  of  the  soil,  identification  of  individual  grave  cuts  was 
occasionally  difficult.  Some  twenty-seven  individual  interments  were  identified,  many  having 
been  cut  into  or  superimposed  upon  earlier  graves.  On  the  basis  of  the  physical  and 
stratigraphical  relationships  available,  coupled  with  the  inferences  of  the  spatial  arrangement 
of  the  graves,  interments  can  be  split  into  three  general  phases:  those  pre-dating  the  Norman 
church,  those  of  likely  17th-18th  century  date  and  those  of  likely  18th-19th  century  date.  Overall 
the  archaeology  might  be  seen  to  fall  into  five  discrete  phases  (I-V). 



Fig.  4a.  1974  Excavation  Area  1 - sections 

Phase  I (Figs  4 and  5) 

Of  the  thirteen  potentially  early  graves,  only  six  have  clear  stratigraphic  relationships  that 
may  allow  them  to  be  ascribed  to  pre-Norman  times.  Of  these,  123,  124,  131  and  136  were 
cut  by  the  foundation  trench  for  what  is  believed  to  be  the  foundation  of  the  north  wall  of  the 
Norman  nave  (122),  thought  to  date  to  c.  AD  1100  (see  above),  whilst  Graves  129  and  133 
are  demonstrably  earlier,  having  been  cut  by  graves  123  and  124  respectively.  Grave  124  is 
of  particular  interest  in  this  early  group  as  the  remains  of  c.  25  year  old  female  it  contained 
were  associated  with  a (Psilver)  finger-ring  with  a developed  zoomorphic  design  that  can  be 
dated  to  the  Late  Saxon  period  (see  below).  The  remaining  graves  potentially  belonging  to 
this  pre-Norman  phase,  but  which  are  not  directly  associated  stratigraphically,  are  125,  126, 
127,  128,  130,  134  and  135.  To  a degree  all  the  burials  attributed  to  this  phase  are  mutually 
exclusive,  with  little  or  no  inter-cutting,  and  it  is  conceivable  that  they  are  contemporary. 
However,  exact  dating  for  the  graves  cannot  be  achieved  and  those  in  the  group,  not 
stratigraphically  tied  to  the  pre-Norman  period,  could  in  reality  date  to  any  point  in  the 
medieval  period.  Apart  from  1 24  the  only  graves  of  this  group  containing  preserved  articulated 
human  bone  were  123,  125,  .126  and  128. 



Phase  II  (Figs  4 and  5) 

This  phase  is  represented  by  the 
foundation  trench  and  foundation  (122) 
of  the  south  wall  of  the  Norman  nave.  From 
the  area  exposed  it  can  be  deduced  that 
the  foundation  was  composed  of  roughly 
coursed  stone  (at  least  six  courses),  some 
1.2m  wide  and  at  least  lm  deep, 
constructed  within  a trench  with  a U- 
shaped  profile. 

Phase  III  (Figs  4 and  5) 

A second  series  of  12  interments  are 
believed  to  date  to  the  17th  and  18th 
centuries.  The  most  interesting  sequence 
here  are  the  three  successive  burials  118, 

119  and  120  interred  within  the  roughly 
fashioned  stone  cist  to  the  south  of  the 
nave.  The  cist  was  constructed  of  two 
vertical  sandstone  slabs  capped  by  a 
horizontal  slab.  The  earliest  individual  to 
be  buried  in  this  possible  family  group  was 
represented  by  120,  a male  between  the 
ages  of  35-40.  The  second  (119)  was 
another  35-40  year  old  male,  and  the  third 
(118)  was  roughly  35  years  old  and  of 
indeterminate  sex.  This  location  was 
subsequently  used  for  two  further  burials, 
the  first  of  which  (115)  cut  through  the 
backfill  of  the  previous  grave  to  bottom 

onto  the  stone  lid  of  the  cist.  This  in  turn  was  cut  by  a later  grave  (113).  The  entire  sequence 
of  burial  mentioned  above  was  cut  by  Phase  IV  grave  108  (see  below),  which  also  cut  grave 
114  to  the  south  which  contained  the  skeleton  of  an  adult  male  who  had  suffered  from 

To  the  north  of  the  nave  arcade  ( 1 22)  were  situated  a further  four  graves  attributed  to  this 
phase.  These  comprised  111,  112,  117  and  120.  Grave  111,  which  was  cut  to  the  north  by  the 
heating  duct  trench  104,  contained  parts  of  an  articulated  skeleton.  Grave  117  contained  the 
skeleton  of  a 45  year  old  female.  However,  all  that  remained  of  a secondary  interment  at  the 
same  location  (112)  were  a few  fragments  of  unarticulated  bone.  Grave  120  revealed  the 
skeletal  remains  of  a 25-35  year  old  male,  but  was  more  notable  for  a number  of  artefacts 
found  associated  with  the  skeleton.  These  included  fragments  of  coffin  nails,  shroud  pins 
and  a knife  blade. 

Phase  IV  (Figs  4 and  5) 

The  latest  phase  of  burial  represented  in  this  area  seemingly  date  to  between  the  later  18th 



Fig.  5.  1974  Excavation  Area  1 - phase  plans  I - IV 

and  19th  centuries.  A total  of  five  graves  were  identified,  106,  107,  108,  109  and  110.  Spatially 
the  graves  seem  to  respect  one  another,  there  being  no  inter  cutting  and  clear  stratigraphic 
relationships  existed  in  all  cases  with  respect  to  the  graves  attributed  to  Phase  III.  Only  one 
of  these  graves,  108,  contained  articulated  bone;  in  this  instance  the  skeleton  of  a female 
who  had  suffered  from  spina  bifida.  The  skull  and  other  bones  of  a neonate  of  less  than  six 
months  of  age  were  also  associated  with  this  skeleton. 

Phase  V 

The  final  ground  disturbances  in  this  part  of  the  cathedral  were  represented  by  the  heating 
duct  trenches,  104  and  105,  which  had  respectively  cut  Graves  109  and  108,  as  well  as  a 
number  of  earlier  graves. 

Area  2 (Figs  3 and  6) 

Area  2 measured  1.3m  by  2.2m  and  was  situated  in  the  sixth  bay  (from  the  west)  of  the 
north  aisle).  As  with  Area  1,  all  pews,  concrete  pew  seating  and  heating  pipes  were  initially 
removed  by  building  contractors.  The  first  archaeological  horizon  was  represented  by  layers 
201  and  202  (the  equivalent  to  101  and  102  in  Area  1 ).  The  removal  of  this  layer,  some  0.3m 
deep,  revealed  the  cuts  of  four  east-west  graves  and  a rubble  filled  foundation  trench,  105, 
running  across  the  centre  of  the  trench  on  the  same  alignment.  Only  three  phases  of  activity 
could  be  discerned  in  this  trench,  corresponding  with  Phases  I,  II  and  III/IV  in  Area  1. 
Details  of  the  graves  and  burials  are  recorded  in  the  archive  report. 

Phase  / (Figs  3 and  6) 

Two  graves,  106  and  107,  were  both  cut  by  the  insertion  of  the  Phase  II  foundation  (105). 
On  the  basis  that  105  is  probably  the  foundation  for  the  Norman  nave  of  c.  AD  1 100,  these 
two  graves  are  potentially  of  Saxon  origin.  Both  burials  contained  incomplete  skeletal 




Fig.  6.  1974  Excavation  Area  2 - plan  and  section 
Phase  II  (Figs  3 and  6) 

Foundation  105  measured  0.9m  wide  in  plan  and  was  composed  of  roughly  coursed  stone 
rubble  (seven  courses)  of  1 rn  depth  within  a trench  with  a U-shaped  profile.  As  stated  above, 
its  position  and  form  are  consistent  with  that  of  the  north  wall  of  the  Norman  nave  of  c.1100 
AD  (see  above). 

Phases  III/IV  (Figs  3 and  6) 

Two  graves,  103  and  104,  respectively  cut  the  earlier  Phase  I graves  106  and  107.  Moreover, 
they  were  positioned  in  a way  that  seems  to  respect  wall  foundation  105  and  the  line  of  the 
later  aisle.  No  diagnostic  finds  were  recovered  from  the  graves  and  it  remains  impossible  to 
date  them  with  any  certainty.  All  the  burials  contained  incomplete  skeletons. 


In  January  1980  excavations  were  carried  out  in  advance  of  the  construction  of  Treacy 
Hall  to  the  north  of  the  cathedral  nave  (Fig.  3).  Burials  and  vaults  were  recorded  as  were  the 
inscriptions  on  205  ledger  stones  dating  from  1718-1875,  most  of  which  had  been  moved 
from  the  Vicar’s  Croft  Burial  Ground  (Fig.  1)  when  that  area  closed  in  the  1930s. 


The  Department  of  Transport  and  Engineering  in  Wakefield  MDC  carried  out  works  to 
create  a new  pedestrianised  precinct  to  the  south  of  the  cathedral.  The  grading  of  the 
churchyard  slope  exposed  large  quantities  of  disturbed  human  bone.  Additionally  four 
intact  burials  in  wooden  coffins  within  separate  brick  built  vaults  of  19th-century  date  were 



located  and  recorded  (Fig.  3). 


Three  trenches  dug  by  the  building  contractors  were  observed.  Their  location  is  marked 
on  Fig.  3.  The  small  trench  located  the  presumed  Norman  south  nave  wall,  previously  seen  in 
the  1974  excavations.  The  other  results  in  the  south  aisle  have  been  mentioned  above  (p.87) 


Over  750  artefacts  have  been  recovered  from  the  various  excavations  at  Wakefield  cathedral, 
almost  exclusively  from  the  work  carried  out  in  1974  and  1980.  The  vast  majority  of  the 
finds  are  not  diagnostic  and  few  are  from  meaningful  contexts;  indeed  many  are  totally 
unprovenanced.  Some  495  of  the  recorded  artefacts  are  residual  pottery  sherds  recovered 
from  the  grave  earth  spits,  with  98%  (484)  of  these  coming  from  the  1980  excavation  trenches. 
The  vast  majority  of  the  copper  alloy  artefacts  recovered  are  pins  and  buttons  recovered 
from  19'h-century  graves,  whilst  the  majority  of  iron  objects  represent  coffin  furniture  of  the 
same  period.  Potentially  the  most  significant  item  of  metalwork  recovered,  a decorated 
finger-ring  from  an  early  grave  excavated  in  1974,  has  since  been  lost.  The  present  report  on 
the  finger-ring  draws  upon  comments  made  up  to  1982  and  a photograph  of  the  artefact. 

Other  finds  include  fragments  of  textile  and  wood  (from  coffins)  recovered  from  the  1974 
work,  whilst  modest  assemblages  of  glass  fragments  (74)  and  clay  tobacco  pipe  fragments 
(59)  were  recovered  from  the  1980s  trenches.  Only  the  human  remains  from  the  1974 
excavation  were  removed  for  examination.  Those  recorded  in  1980  were  left  in  situ  and 
were  not  subject  to  osteological  analysis. 


The  ring  was  found  associated  with  the  skeleton  in  Grave  124,  excavated  in  1974,  a grave 
seemingly  cut  by  what  is  believed  to  be  the  foundation  for  the  nave  of  the  12th  century 
church.  The  ring,  which  was  still  extant  in  1982,  has  since  been  lost  (and  has  possibly 
disintegrated).  A photographic  record  and  a drawing  are  all  that  survive  in  the  present 
archive  (Fig.  7).  The  ring  appears  to  have  been  decorated  with  a zoomorphic  design  in  the 

Fig.  7.  Anglo-Saxon  finger-ring  from  grave  124 

a)  initial  illustration  based  upon  photographs 

b)  interpreted  enhancement  of  design  (D.  Tweddle) 



Trewhiddle  style,  suggesting  that  it  belonged  to  the  Late  Saxon  period  (Faull  1981a,  188). 

Dr  Dominic  Tweddle  comments:  The  object  is  quite  clearly  in  the  Trewhiddle  style.  The 
animals  are  typical  in  having  sub-triangular  bodies  with  small  nicks  in  them  and  a collar 
round  the  neck,  although  they  are  not  particularly  well  represented  in  the  existing  drawing 
(Fig.  7a).  A number  of  finger-rings  have  bezels  decorated  with  Trewdiddle  style  animals, 
although  the  animals  are  more  commonly  single  than  paired.  The  use  of  paired  animals, 
however,  is  a consistent  theme  in  northern  art  in  the  10th  and  11th  centuries,  and  is  more 
commonplace  on  the  sculpture  of  the  period.  It  is  suggested  that  the  object  is  taking  a 
southern  art  style  and  re-interpreting  it  in  a way  which  is  more  familiar  in  northern  England. 
The  most  likely  date  is  10th  century.  An  interpreted  enhancement  of  the  design  is  provided  as 
Figure  7b. 


The  excavations  of  1974  revealed  a number  of  graves  that  stratigraphically  pre-date  the 
earliest  structural  remains  on  the  site.  On  the  presumption  that  these  structural  remains 
relate  to  the  early  12th-century  church,  these  graves  assume  a potentially  pre-Norman  date. 
The  one  artefact  that  could  have  unequivocally  confirmed  a pre-Conquest  date  for  one  of 
the  early  graves  was  a finger-ring  from  Grave  124.  Its  loss  is  most  regrettable,  although 
opinion  on  the  basis  of  the  remaining  evidence  points  to  a Late  Saxon  origin.  In  wider  terms 
the  existence  of  a Late  Saxon  cemetery  at  Wakefield  is  very  significant,  it  being  just  one  of 
three  now  known  through  excavation  in  West  Yorkshire;  the  others  being  at  Pontefract 
(Roberts  2002,  9;  Wilmott  1987)  and  Addingham  (Adams  1996). 


The  excavations  at  the  cathedral  have  been  on  too  small  a scale  to  provide  data  that  can 
unequivocally  substantiate  or  modify  notions  about  the  chronological  development  of  the 
earlier  parish  church.  There  is  evidence  from  the  1974  excavations  that  supports  the  theory 
that  the  12th-century  nave  walls  were  on  the  line  of  the  present  aisle  arcades,  and  more 
significantly  that  a pre-Norman  burial  ground  lay  on  the  same  site.  No  evidence  has  been 
found  for  the  Late  Saxon  church  that  presumably  existed  here,  although  this  may  not  have 
been  a structure  in  stone. 


The  excavations  of  1974  and  1980  were  directed  by  the  County  Archaeologist  Phil  Mayes.  The 
1974  site  work  was  carried  out  by  Jake  Goodband  and  Andy  Swann  assisted  by  Paul  Wood  and 
Stuart  Harrison.  The  1980  excavations  were  supervised  by  Andy  Swann,  assisted  by  Steve  Wager, 
Sue  Nelson,  Phil  Swann  and  Jeny  Keighley.  Keith  Manchester  was  in  attendance  on  site  to  record 
human  remains.  The  watching  brief  in  1991-2  was  undertaken  by  Ian  Roberts,  Max  Adams  and 
Alistair  Webb.  The  watching  brief  in  1995  was  carried  out  by  Antony  Francis. 

The  authors  are  grateful  to  Dominic  Tweddle  for  his  comments  on  the  finger-ring,  earlier 
comments  having  been  made  by  Hazel  Wheeler  prior  to  the  ring’s  disappearance.  With  the  exception 
of  the  finger-ring  by  J.  Goodband,  all  the  illustrative  work  for  the  report  is  by  Andy  Swann. 




Adams,  M.,  1996,  ‘Excavation  of  a pre-Conquest  Cemetery  at  Addingham,  West  Yorkshire’, 
Medieval  Archaeology  40,  151-191 

Francis,  A.  1995,  ‘Wakefield  Cathedral:  Watching  Brief  in  the  South  Aisle’,  WYAS  Rep226 

Faull,  M.L.,  1981a,  ‘The  Late  Anglo-Saxon  period’,  in  Faull,  M.L.  and  Moorhouse,  SA.  West 
Yorkshire:  an  Archaeological  Survey  to  A. D.  1500,  WYMDC,  Ch.  14,  187-202 

Faull,  M.L.,  1981b,  ‘The  pre-Conquest  ecclesiastical  pattern’,  in  Faull,  M.L.  and  Moorhouse, 
S.A.  West  Yorkshire:  an  Archaeological  Survey  to  A. D.  1500 \ WYMDC,  Ch.  16,  210-223 

Marshall,  P.W.,  1975,  ‘The  Cathedral  Church  of  All  Saints,  Wakefield’,  unpublished  MS 

Micklethwaite,  J.T.,  1888,  ‘On  the  Growth  of  the  Fabric  of  All  Saints  Church,  Wakefield  AD 
1100-1530’,  in  Walker,  J.W.,  1888,  Section  III,  36-48,  figures  1-7 

Pevsner,  N.,  1959,  The  Buildings  of  England:  Yorkshire.  The  West  Riding,  519-520 

Roberts,  I.  2002,  Pontefract  Castle:  Archaeological  Excavations  1982-86 , Yorkshire 
Archaeology  8 

Ryder,  P.,  1993,  Medieval  Churches  of  West  Yorkshire 

Speak,  H.  and  Forrester,  J.,  1976,  The  Cathedral  Church  of  All  Saints,  Wakefield.  An  Outline 
History  and  Guide 

Thorp,  F.  1975,  ‘Yorkshire  Archaeological  Register’  Yorkshire  Archaeological Journal 47,  9 
Walker,  J.  (Surveyor),  1823,  ‘Plan  of  the  Town  of  Wakefield’,  Wakefield  Museum 
Walker,  J.W.,  1888,  The  History  of  the  Old  Parish  Church  of  All  Saints,  Wakefield 
Walker,  J.W.,  1934,  Wakefield.  Its  History  and  People,  Vol.  2 
Wilmott,  T.,  1987,  ‘Pontefract’,  Current  Archaeology  106,  431-444 




Between  1995-98  a campaign  of  repair  and  restoration  was  undertaken  at  All  Saints,  Little 
Ousebnrn  under  the  direction  of  the  architect  Peter  Pace.  During  plaster  stripping  three  fragments 
of  Anglo-Saxon  carving  were  found  incorporated  into  the  fabric.  One  piece  measuring  25  ins.  (64 
cm.)  long  and  tapering  from  11  to  9 ins.  (27  to  23  cm.),  was  built  into  the  south  face  of  the  north  nave 
arcade  wall.  It  appeared  to  be  part  of  a cross  shaft  decorated  along  each  exposed  edge  with  fifteen 
roundels  and  an  extended  ovolo-like  moulding.  Part  of  the  same  cross  stands  loose  against  the  south 
aisle  exterior  wall.  The  second  piece  (Fig.  8)  was  built  into  the  west  face  of  the  north  jamb  of  the  south 
aisle  east  window.  It  showed  the  lower 
part  of  a robed  figure  with  feet 
emerging  from  beneath  the  robe. 

There  is  a hint  of  interlace  below  the 
figure.  The  nearest  parallels  are  at 
Collingham  and  Dewsbury  of  the 
later  ninth  century,  but  on  those 
crosses  the  toes  are  not  individually 
carved.  This  stone  was  later  heavily 
keyed  to  receive  a plaster  surface, 
thereby  obscuring  or  removing  the 
finer  detail.  The  third  stone  is  at  the 
base  of  the  same  jamb  but  faces 
southwards.  It  appears  to  show  part 
of  a different  robed  figure  with  the 
folds  of  the  robe  gathered  together 
and  part  of  a head.  Also  revealed  in 
the  plaster  clearance  was  that  one  of 
the  stones  forming  the  north-east 
angle  of  the  tower  had  on  its  east 
face  a cable  moulding;  this  stone  was 
4 ft.  above  floor  level.  These  stones 
will  be  the  subject  of  a fuller 
description  and  analysis  by  Dr. 

Elizabeth  Coatsworth  for  the  Corpus 
of  Anglo-Saxon  Sculpture. 

To  assist  rainwater  drainage  a 
number  of  gullies  and  soakaways  were 
dug  around  the  church.  No  structural 
evidence  was  observed  but  grave  earth 
with  18th-19th  century  coffin  furniture 
was  encountered  together  with  a 
rotary  quern  of  gritstone,  probably 
of  Iron  Age  date.  The  west  tower  was 
placed  on  a foundation  course  of 
unmortared  field  stones  or  boulders 
15  ins  (38  cm.)  deep  and  spreading 
up  to  9 ins.  (23  cm.)  west  and  south  of 
the  church  without  any  visible 
foundation  trench.  The  lowest  12  ft. 

(4  m.)  of  the  tower  was  built  of  large 
squared  gritstone  blocks,  probably 
robbed  from  a Roman  structure.  This 
lower  portion  of  the  tower  butted 
against  the  west  wall  of  the  nave,  which 





Fig.  8a.  Little  Ouseburn:  illustration  of  Late  Saxon 
figure  sculpture  - scale  drawing  (author) 



still  retained  a plastered  or  lime-washed  surface  on  its  external  wall  where  protected  by  or  trapped 
behind  the  tower  masonry.  Above  12  ft.  the  tower  was  bonded  to  the  nave  gable  roof.  This  suggests 
that  the  earliest  part  of  the  nave  is  circa  850-950,  the  lower  part  of  the  tower  is  950-1050,  and  the 
upper  part  of  the  tower  and  the  adjacent  nave  west  gable  wall  is  1050-1150.  The  dates  given  here  are 
a general  indication  in  the  absence  of  surviving  datable  features  in  situ  as  occurs  at  Ledsham  and 
Kirk  Hammerton;  the  sequence  is  clear  but  the  date  range  is  much  more  open  to  discussion. 

0 12  ins 

0 30cms 

Fig.  8b.  Little  Ouseburn:  illustration  of  Late  Saxon  figure 
sculpture  - scale  drawing  (author) 

Opportunity  was  also  taken  to  examine  at  close  range  the  cross  on  the  east  gable  of  the  nave.  This 
was  early  13th  century  with  the  figure  of  Christ  crucified  (east  face)  and  stiff-leaf  foliage  on  both  faces 
and  on  the  underside  of  the  cross’s  width.  It  was  formerly  on  the  chancel  gable  until  it  was  moved 
at  the  1875  restoration. 




A comprehensive  programme  of  minor  works  was  undertaken  from  1995-1999  at  St.  Agatha’s 
Church  under  the  direction  of  the  church  architect  Neil  Birdsall.  During  the  construction  of  drainage 
trenches  and  a soakaway  to  the  north-west  of  the  church  a piece  of  Anglo-Saxon  cross  head  (Fig.  9) 
was  found  in  disturbed  ground  east  of  the  outer  north  aisle.  It  has  three  strand  interlace  on  both 
faces  of  the  cross  arm  and  a two  strand  interlace  on  the  terminal  end.  The  width  of  the  cross  arm 
is  plain  and  has  no  evidence  for  a ringed  head.  It  can  be  loosely  paralleled  by  other  cross  heads  in  the 

church,  but  is  closer  to  those  at  Brompton 

Fig.  9a.  Gilling  West:  Late  Saxon  cross  head 

top  of  the  early  Norman  tower;  in  order  to 
support  the  additional  weight  the  four  two-light 
openings  were  blocked  (Fig.  10).  The  blocking 
masonry  within  the  round-arched  openings  was 
plainly  visible  from  the  exterior,  but  the  window 
blocking  can  also  be  seen  from  within  the  tower 
where  the  corbels  to  support  the  joists  of  the  bell 
frame  are  inserted  into  the  north  and  south  walls. 
Until  the  masonry  was  briefly  removed  the  form 
of  these  windows  was  completely  unknown. 
Comparable  two  light  openings  separated  by  a 
single  column  and  a plain  capital  supporting  two 
round  headed  arches  within  the  larger  window 
arch  can  be  seen  at  towers  of  similar  date,  such  as 
Campsall,  Hornby,  Ledsham  or  Weaverthorpe. 
The  only  original  Norman  window  still  in  use  is 
an  almond-shaped  lunette  in  the  south  wall.  The 
tower  stair  is  a Victorian  addition  of  1899. 

(Collingwood,  E4/19  (1907),  300,  k,  1).  This 
cross  fragment  will  be  more  fully  described 
by  Professor  Rosemary  Cramp  and  Dr. 
Derek  Craig  in  a future  volume  of  the 
Corpus  of  Anglo-Saxon  Sculpture.  It  is 
likely  to  have  been  deposited  here  as  part  of 
the  debris  from  the  1845  outer  north  aisle 
construction.  Also  in  a drainage  trench  west 
of  the  inner  north  aisle  was  a Nuremberg 
jeton  issued  by  Conrad  Lauffer  (1637-68)  of 
Louis  XIV  type  (identified  by  Craig  Barclay 
of  the  Yorkshire  Museum,  who  refers  to  M. 
Mitchiner,  Jetons,  medalets  and  tokens , /. 
The  Medieval  Period  and  Nuremberg 
(Seaby,  London,  1988),  no.  1764a);  it  was 
pierced  for  suspension,  perhaps  on  a 

During  extensive  repointing  of  the  west 
tower  it  was  discovered  that  the  belfry  stage 
of  the  fifteenth  century  had  been  placed  on 

Fig.  9b.  Gilling  West:  Late  Saxon  cross  head 



Fig.  10.  Gilling  West:  Early  Norman  window  arch  on  south  face  of  tower  (author) 

An  early  fourteenth-century  grave  slab  inserted  into  the  ornate  tomb  recess  in  the  south  wall  of  the 
south  aisle  close  to  the  east  end  was  examined  by  a small-scale  excavation.  The  rear  wall  of  the  recess 
was  unsound  and  mortar  was  loosening  from  the  single  thickness  of  stonework  allowing  damp,  mice 
and  insects  to  penetrate  the  church.  The  gravestone  was  removed;  the  loose  earth  and  stone  packing 
upon  which  it  stood  was  excavated.  This  filling  contained  a piece  of  marble  broken  from  the  wall 
tablet  to  Matthew  and  Esther  Raine  (died  1807  and  1838  respectively)  fixed  above  the  arched  recess. 
The  earth  rested  on  Victorian  paving  of  1845,  which  continued  through  from  the  aisle  pavement 
and  supported  the  pew  platform.  A fuller  report  was  submitted  to  the  architect  and  to  the  parochial 
church  council  (28/3/1995).  The  medieval  grave  slab  with  its  floral  head  and  a sword  in  low  relief  had 
been  recorded  by  Charles  Boutell  ( Christian  Monuments  in  England  and  Wales  (London,  1849),  70) 
and,  now  more  accurately,  by  Peter  Ryder  in  1995.  This  slab  is  now  fully  visible  within  the  recess 
instead  of  being  partly  obscured  by  wall  plaster  and  hidden  behind  the  pews. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 



By  Rita  Wood 

The  chancel  arch  capitals,  with  carving  of  figures,  foliage  and  both  real  and  imaginary 
animals,  embody  a unified  teaching  scheme  based  on  two  sermons  of  St.  Augustine  of 
Hippo.  This  scheme  covers  the  Fall,  the  Incarnation  and  Christian  life  here  and  hereafter.  It 
is  likely  to  have  been  designed  by  an  Augustinian  based,  at  least  temporally,  at  Guisborough 
Priory.  Comparisons  are  made  with  sculpture  locally,  in  other  parts  of  the  county,  at  Tutbury 
in  Staffordshire  and  even  as  far  away  as  Milan.  The  crane  and  wyverns  are  among  motifs 

Fig.  1 Liverton  church  from  the  south  (pictures  are  of  Liverton  unless  otherwise  stated) 


Liverton  is  a small  village  on  the  northern  side  of  the  North  York  Moors  above  Loftus.  It 
is  some  three  miles  from  the  sea,  and  at  a height  of  about  130m  (450ft).  The  church,  now 
dedicated  to  St  Michael  but  formerly  to  St  Martin,  stands  on  its  own  at  the  lower,  northern 
end  of  the  village  and  until  about  1900  the  old  parsonage,  a traditional  long-house,  stood 
nearby.1  The  church  has  a small  nave  and  a smaller  chancel;  the  nave  retains  some  original 
Norman  walling  (Fig.  1).  Although  there  has  been  extensive  repair  and  restoration  in 

1 T.  M.  Fallow,  ‘Discoveries  at  Liverton  Church’,  Proc.  Cleveland  Naturalists’  Field  Club,  1 (1895- 
1902),  p.  254. 



Fig.  2 General  view  of  the  chancel  arch 

Fig.  3 Right-side  capitals 

modern  times,  it  is  evident  that  no  major  innovation  has  occurred  since  the  1140s  when  a 
church  of  similar  dimensions  was  built  by  some  local  landholder,  perhaps  by  Niel  de 
Liverton.2This  simple  structure  was  the  basic  starter  church  for  many  a village,  and  the  plain 

2 The  Victoria  History  of  the  Counties  of  England:  Yorkshire,  North  Riding ; (London,  1923),  II,  pp. 



cylindrical  font  inside  it,  also  much  restored,  is  of  the  same  kind.3  The  nearby  settlements  at 
Loftus  and  Easington  have  lost  their  medieval  churches,  but  they  were  probably  very  similar: 
before  demolition  they  were  described  as  mean,  or  plain,  and  humble.4 

Even  before  the  wave  of  Victorian  improvements,  Liverton  church  was  seen  to  be  decay- 
ing and  had  been  restored,  so  that  John  Graves  writing  in  1808  could  describe  it  as  ‘a  small 
modern-built  edifice.’  Thomas  Fallow  published  several  views  of  the  exterior  as  it  appeared 
in  the  late  nineteenth  century,  and  it  is  not  immediately  recognisable  as  a medieval  church, 
the  fenestration  giving  the  impression  of  a dissenters’  chapel.  There  was  a more  extensive, 
historicising,  restoration  at  Liverton  in  1901-2.5  Groups  of  lancets  replaced  the  sash  win- 
dows, but  the  bell  turret  that  we  now  see  in  the  new  roof  replaced  an  arrangement  on  the  west 
gable  which  had  probably  been  developed  from  an  original  bell-cote.  Inside,  the  work  in- 
cluded removing  the  west  gallery,  lowering  the  floor,  providing  a vestry  and  enlarging  the 
porch.  Lord  Grimthorpe,  Chancellor  of  the  Consistory  Court,  approving  the  proposed 
works  without  having  full  particulars  to  hand,  noted  on  the  faculty  papers  ‘the  church  is 
apparently  of  no  architectural  value,  except  the  Norman  arch’.  It  is  a surprise  and  pleasure 
to  see  an  almost  intact,  elaborate  and  skilfully-carved  twelfth-century  chancel  arch  in  such 
simple  surroundings  (Fig.  2). 

The  arch  is  of  three  orders,  of  which  the  two  inner  orders  have  the  same  chevron 
mouldings  while  the  third  has  a repeated  pattern  of  masks  with  stems  and  leaves  coming 
from  their  mouths.  An  arch  like  that  would  have  been  sufficient  for  the  average  village 
church  even  if  the  capitals  had  been  routinely  formed  and  the  imposts  plain.  Here,  however, 
the  imposts  have  a stylish  foliage  pattern  (except  for  a short  length  at  the  north  end  where 
there  is  some  chip  carving)  and  the  capitals  are  individually  carved  with  a variety  of  animals, 
birds  and  people  (Figs.  3 and  4).  These  capitals  at  the  chancel  arch  have  the  appearance  of  a 
teaching  scheme;  this  itself  is  a little  unusual  as  most  teaching  elsewhere  in  Yorkshire  is  on 
the  doorways.  But  Liverton  is  an  exposed  place  and  it  would  have  been  practical  to 
concentrate  the  carving  inside,  on  the  chancel  arch,  where  everyone  could  assimilate  in 
relative  comfort  whatever  it  had  to  say. 

The  right  side  of  the  arch 

On  the  right  side  (Fig.  3),  the  easternmost  or  left-hand  capital  of  the  three  depicts  the  Fall 
on  its  main  face  (Fig.  5).  On  the  left  angle  of  this  capital  is  Adam  and  on  the  right,  Eve. 
Between  them  on  the  north  face,  extending  the  apple  towards  Eve  - and  towards  the 
congregation  in  the  nave  - is  the  serpent  in  the  Tree  of  the  Knowledge  of  Good  and  Evil.  As 
is  so  often  the  case,  the  story  is  conflated,  with  both  the  temptation  of  Eve  and  the  shame  of 
the  couple  being  indicated  in  the  one  scene.  There  are  two  unusual  features,  one  is  that 
Adam  and  Eve  do  not  use  leaves  to  cover  themselves  but  place  both  hands  flat  on  rectangular 
shapes.  These  suggest  books,  such  as  might  be  held  by  apostles,  or  as  are  held  by  the  clergy 

3 The  jambs  of  the  north  doorway  can  be  traced  externally,  it  was  only  0.8m  wide.  The  font  has  been 
restored,  with  renewed  rim  and  added  legs. 

4 J.  Graves,  The  History  and  Antiquities  of  Cleveland  { Carlisle,  1808),  pp.  332,  334. 

5 The  restoration  work  is  illustrated  in  Fallow,  ‘Discoveries’,  pp.  249-254.  Faculty  papers  including 
plans:  Borthwick  Institute,  Fac.  1901/9. 



Fig.  5 Adam;  the  Serpent  in  the  Tree  of  Knowledge;  Eve 



Fig.  6 The  Tree  of  Life 

carved  on  the  font  at  Kirkburn  - but  they 
are,  no  doubt,  the  ‘aprons’  ( perizomata ) 
of  Genesis  3:7.  Adam  and  Eve  made  their 
girdles  or  aprons  out  of  fig-leaves  and  so 
are  usually  shown  holding  a large  leaf,  as 
locally  on  East  Riding  fonts  at  Langtoft 
and  Cowlam,  and  at  Riccall  on  the  door- 
way. At  Barton-le-Street,  Adam  and  Eve 
use  one  large  hand  alone  to  cover  their 
nakedness,  and  this  is  occasionally  seen 
elsewhere.  The  depiction  of  actual  aprons 
seems  to  be  unique  to  Liverton.  The  sec- 
ond unusual  feature  of  the  carving  on  this 
capital  is  that  the  snake  is  patterned  by 
scattered  pitted  holes  rather  than  scales 
or  lengthwise  beading.  This  treatment  is 
not  common  in  Yorkshire  but  occurs,  for 
example,  on  the  various  snakes  and  drag- 
ons on  the  Langtoft  font  (formerly  at 
Cottam),  and  on  beakheads  at  Kirkburn 
and  Healaugh.  Whether  it  is  found  in  ad- 
jacent parts  of  county  Durham  is  not 

At  Adam’s  right  hand,  on  the  east  face 
of  the  capital  within  the  chancel  and  easily  missed,  is  a small  tree  with  a plaited  trunk 
supporting  two  leaves  and  a bunch  of  grapes  (Fig.  6).  This  is  presumably  the  Tree  of  Life  in 
the  Garden  of  Eden,6  and  as  a vine  it  could  also  refer  to  the  sacramental  wine  on  the  nearby 
altar.  There  is  probably  more  to  it  than  that,  for  its  threefold  form  as  well  as  its  eastward 
position  suggest  it  might  be  a reference  to  the  Trinity,  while  the  Tree  of  Life  itself  reappears 
at  the  end  of  the  Bible  in  Revelation  as  the  heavenly  reward  of  the  believer.7  There  is  a 
threefold  tree  on  the  Cottam  font  too,  but  it  is  unlikely  the  workman  was  the  same.  It  is  a 
novelty  which  would  have  been  required  by  the  person  who  decided  the  content  of  the 

Next  to  Eve  on  the  west  face  of  the  same  capital  stands  an  angel  whose  narrow  wings  have 
their  tips  upward  (Fig.  7).  The  angel  cannot  be  the  one  posted  at  the  gate  of  the  garden  of 
Eden  (Gen.  3:24)  because  he  does  not  hold  a sword:  this  angel  stands  with  his  hands  empty 
and  held  irregularly  across  the  body.  This  is  a posture  perhaps  suggesting  fear  and  awe,  even 

6 Compare  this  tree,  especially  the  leaves,  to  that  on  fol.  17  of  the  Hortus  Deliciarum , in  the  scene  of 
the  creation  of  Eve.  See  Herrad  von  Landsperg,  Hortus  Deliciarum , ed.  R.  Green  et  al.,  (London 
1979),  Commentary,  p.  97. 

7 ‘The  tree  of  Life  ...  and  the  grapevine  refer  to  future  events  in  human  history.  They  are  typological 
references  to  the  death  by  crucifixion  on  a tree  of  the  new  Adam,  Christ,  and  to  the  Eucharist, 
wherein  the  body  that  was  sacrificed  will  save  humankind.’  R H.  Jolly,  Made  in  God’s  Image?:  Eve 
and  Adam  in  the  Genesis  Mosaics  at  San  Marco,  Venice  (Berkeley,  1997),  pp.  32-3. 



astonishment:  in  a manuscript  drawing  dated  to 
cl  140,  a number  of  angels  attending  God  at  the 
Last  Judgement  stand  like  this.8  Those  angels 
are  stationaiy  and  their  wings  are  downward- 
pointing. The  upward-pointing  wings  of  the  an- 
gel in  the  carving  suggest  flight,  they  could  indi- 
cate the  angel  is  going  on  a message.  This  is  per- 
haps Gabriel,  the  messenger  of  the  Incarnation, 
standing  in  the  presence  of  God  and  being  sent 
down  to  earth  on  this  particular  errand,  as  de- 
scribed in  Luke  1:26, 27.  In  English  Romanesque 
art,  this  is  ‘a  very  rare  subject  of  Byzantine  ori- 
gin’ and  only  two  examples  are  known:  one  in 
the  Shaftesbury  Psalter  of  cl  130-40,  and  the 
other  in  the  later  Winchester  Psalter.  In  a twelfth- 
century  drawing  in  a Byzantine  source  the  angel 
is  shown  twice  in  the  same  scene,  standing  to 
receive  God’s  command  and  flying  down  to 
earth,  his  wings  pointing  upwards.9  In  these 
three  drawings,  facial  expressions  together 
with  gesture  express  amazement  among  the  an- 
gels at  the  commission:  the  position  of  the  an- 
gel’s hands  in  the  carving  may  convey  something 
of  this  surprise.  The  carved  imagery  is  severely 
conflated,  more  so  than  for  the  Fall  on  the  north 
face  of  the  capital,  for  all  that  is  shown  is  the 
angel,  and  neither  God  nor  Mary.  The  angel  here  represents  the  Incarnation  of  Christ,  in 
particular  bringing  to  mind  his  death,  which  was  necessitated  by  the  Fall. 

Fig.  7 The  Angel 

Gabriel’s  errand  is  to  Mary,  the  ‘daughter’  of  Eve.  Many  parallels  and  contrasts  were  made 
between  Eve  and  Mary  in  the  West  in  the  period,  for  example,  the  eleventh-century  bronze 
doors  at  Hildesheim  show  Eve  suckling  Cain  opposite  Mary  suckling  Jesus.  The  Incarna- 
tion reversed  the  Fall,  it  made  possible  the  ‘rising  again’  of  man,  that  is,  his  resurrection, 
ascension  and  return  to  the  heavenly  paradise  prepared  for  him  by  God  in  the  beginning. 
The  scenes  on  the  Hildesheim  doors  are  placed  so  that  the  Genesis  narrative  reads  down  the 
left  side,  and  the  gospel  reads  upwards  on  the  right,  a visual  fall  and  rising.10  Elsewhere, 
Byzantine-style  twelfth-  and  thirteenth-century  mosaics  of  the  Virgin  at  Venice,  Murano  and 

8 C.  M.  Kauffmann,  Romanesque  Manuscripts,  1066-1190  (London  1975),  fig.  102  (Cambridge 
Pembroke  Coll.  120,  fol.  6v).  For  a similar  human  gesture,  see  R.  Wood,  ‘The  Augustinians  and  the 
Romanesque  Sculpture  at  Kirkburn  Church’,  East  Yorkshire  Historian,  4 (2003),  p.  41,  pi.  31. 

9 For  rarity  and  Shaftesbury  Psalter  fol.  12v,  see  Kauffmann,  Romanesque  Manuscripts,  Cat.  48 
and  fig.  131.  For  both  Winchester  Psalter  fol.  10,  and  Shaftesbury,  see  K.  E.  Haney,  The  Winchester 
Psalter,  an  Iconographic  Study  (Leicester,  1986),  pis.  9,  82;  pp.  94-5.  For  the  Byzantine  example,  see 
C.  Stornajolo,  Miniatures  of  the  Homilies  of  Giacomo  monaco  (Rome,  1910),  p.  48. 

10  J.  Beckwith,  Early  Medieval  Art:  Carolingian,  Ottonian,  Romanesque  (London,  1969),  ill.  135. 



Fig.  8 Man  and  foliage  trails 

Torcello  are  bordered  by  texts  which  link  Eve  with  Mary.11  The  antithesis  in  the  Eve-Mary 
theme  tempted  the  rhetorician  in  many  writers.  An  exponent  of  this  reciprocity  in  the  early 
twelfth  century  was  Bernard  of  Clairvaux,  who  in  a sermon  on  the  verses  in  Luke  said 
‘Rejoice,  Eve,  rejoice  in  such  a daughter...’,  and  in  another  sermon,  ‘if  man  fell  by  a woman, 
he  is  raised  up  by  a woman’.12  But  the  antithesis  had  long  been  recognised,  Augustine  of 
Hippo  had  said  ‘It  was  through  a woman  that  we  were  cast  into  destruction,  through  a 
woman  that  salvation  was  restored  to  us’.13  Appropriate  to  the  carving  is  an  even  earlier  text, 
of  Tertullian:  ‘As  Eve  believed  the  serpent,  so  Mary  believed  the  angel.’14 

The  capital  of  the  second  order  is  smaller  than  either  of  those  flanking  it,  and  contains 
only  a man’s  head  with  foliage  trails  coming  from  the  mouth,  a motif  which  is  common  in 
Romanesque  sculpture  (Fig.  8).  Foliage  is  not  primarily  decorative,  but  was  capable  of  carrying 

11  O.  Demus,  Mosaics  of  San  Marco , 1 (Chicago,  1988),  p.  40.  Demus  remarks  that  ‘the  parallel 
between  Eve  and  the  Virgin  is  hardly  to  be  found  in  Byzantium:  it  was  a Western  idea,  and  the  three 
Venetian  inscriptions  seem  to  be  the  only  examples  of  it  in  the  Byzantine  colonial  sphere’. 

12  Bernard  of  Clairvaux,  PL  183,  col.  62. 

13  Augustine  of  Hippo,  sermons  188.3;  184.2;  289.2.  See  The  Works  of  Saint  Augustine,  Sermons , III/ 
6,  trans.  E.  Hill,  (New  York,  1993);  III/8,  trans.  E.  Hill,  (New  York,  1994).  For  the  sophisticated 
exercise  of  antithesis,  see  H.  Maguire,  Art  and  Eloquence  in  Byzantium  (Princeton,  1994),  pp.  53-83. 

14  Tertullian,  ‘On  the  Flesh  of  Christ’,  ch.  17,  in  Ante-Nicene  Christian  Library , XV/2,  ed.  A.  Roberts 
&J.  Donaldson  (Edinburgh,  1870),  pp.  200-01. 



Fig.  9 The  boar  hunt 

powerful  messages:  it  represented  Christ  the  Vine,  or  the  life-giving  blood  of  Christ,  and  so 
eternal  life.  Whereas  classical  art  had  used  evergreen  foliage  to  picture  life  after  death, 
Christian  art  used  deciduous  foliage,  paralleling  the  resurrection  by  the  life-out-of-death 
display  of  fresh  springing  leaves.  Foliage  coming  from  a man’s  mouth  therefore  suggests  he 
is  filled  with  and  exhaling  the  abundant  new  life  of  heaven  won  for  him  by  Christ’s  incarna- 
tion and  death.15  In  this  instance  it  also  recalls  the  threefold  tree,  the  heavenly  reward,  on  the 
east  face  of  the  first  capital. 

The  capital  of  the  third  order,  at  the  right  hand  side  and  next  to  the  nave,  shows  a boar 
hunt  (Fig.  9).  On  the  north  face  is  a hunter  blowing  his  horn  and  two  dogs,  and  to  the  right 
is  a third  dog  which  has  taken  hold  of  the  boar  but  is  trampled  under  its  foot,  a fate  which 
would  have  been  plainly  visible  to  the  people  in  the  nave.  As  with  the  foliage  on  the  previous 
capital,  this  entertaining  genre  scene  is  more  than  it  may  appear  to  be,  and  contains  basic 
teaching.  In  Psalm  80: 13  a boar  comes  out  of  the  wood  and  destroys  a vineyard,  by  which  the 
psalmist  meant  that  other  nations  threatened  Israel,  God’s  people.  Medieval  Christian 
exegesis  would  have  understood  the  verse  to  mean  that  evil  spiritual  forces  are  capable  of 
damaging  the  Church.  The  boar  would  therefore  symbolise  the  Devil.  In  an  actual 
boar-hunt,  the  huntsman  led  a pack  of  dogs,  and  tried  to  control  the  movements  of  the  wild 

15  R.  Wood,  ‘Before  the  Green  Man’,  Medieval  Life,  14  (2000),  pp.  8-13. 



Fig.  10  Beakhead,  foliage  and  wyvern 

creature  so  that  it  could  eventually  be  cornered  and  killed.  Good  dogs  stayed  by  the 
huntsman  waiting  for  commands,  impetuous  dogs  tangled  with  the  boar  on  their  own 
and  suffered  the  consequences.  In  an  allegorical  interpretation  of  the  boar-hunt,  the  hunts- 
man with  his  horn  symbolises  the  earthly  authority  of  the  Church  - anyone  perhaps,  from  St 
Peter  to  the  parish  priest,  who  taught  the  people.  The  boar  is  only  finally  ‘killed’  at  the 
Second  Coming  of  Christ.16  This  carving  of  the  boar-hunt  cautions  the  viewer  not  to  take 
redemption  for  granted:  listening  and  responding  to  the  commands  of  the  huntsman  is  vital 
if  one  wishes  to  survive  the  trials  of  the  world  and  reach  the  heavenly  life  symbolised  in  the 
second  capital  by  the  man’s  head  emitting  foliage  and  on  the  first  by  the  Tree  of  Life.  The 
three  capitals  on  the  right  of  the  arch  are  a unit,  teaching  about  the  Fall,  Salvation,  life  in  the 
Church  and  the  hope  of  heaven.  These  carvings  must  provide  the  most  concise  summary 
possible  of  God’s  plan  of  Salvation,  but  they  would  have  been  capable  of  endless  extension 
according  to  the  capabilities  of  the  teacher. 

16  The  iconography  of  the  boarhunt  as  found  in  England  is  discussed  in  R.  Wood,  ‘The  Roman- 
esque Font  at  St  Marychurch,  Torquay’,  Proc.  Devon  Archaeol.  Soc.,  63,  (2005),  pp.  79-98, 
especially  pp.  89-95. 



Fig.  11  Mask,  foliage  and  little  lion 

The  left  side  of  the  arch 

After  that  tour-de-force,  what  subject  could  possibly  remain  for  the  carvings  on  the  left 
side  of  the  arch  (Fig.  4)?  In  the  outer  capitals  there  are  five  complete  creatures  and  the  heads 
of  two  others  used  as  volutes;  there  is  much  foliage  on  the  capital  on  the  right;  the  small 
capital  in  the  centre  has  a woven  pattern.  It  is  surely  unlikely  that  all  this  is  empty  decoration 
when  so  much  meaning  has  been  condensed  into  the  three  capitals  on  the  right  side  of  the 
arch.  On  the  left  side  there  are  no  human  figures,  there  is  no  suggestion  of  narrative  or 
allegory  as  appears  on  the  right.  The  whole  content  of  this  left  side  is  evidently  symbolic,  it 
is  to  be  read  as  a metaphor  of  spiritual  things,  in  the  anagogical  sense.  The  three  capitals  on 
the  left  can  be  shown  to  have  one  main  subject,  which  is  life  in  the  regained  “heavenly 



paradise”,  and  it  is  surely  appropriate  that,  if  the  capitals  on  the  right  stress  sin,  suffering 
and  obedience  on  earth,  these  on  the  left  might  encourage  thoughts  of  eternal  bliss. 

The  bold  foliage  is  similar  on  the  eastern  capitals  both  left  and  right  of  the  arch.  Foliage  is 
lavish  in  Eden  and  would  similarly  have  paradisal  associations  in  the  opposite  capital  too 
(Figs.  10,  11  compare  Figs.  5,  6).  The  heads  on  the  angles  of  the  capital  nearest  the  chancel 
emit  foliage  as  does  the  ‘green  man’  in  the  central  capital  on  the  right  side,  but  with  the 
important  difference  that  while  the  man’s  head  is  regular  and  he  can  be  seen  as  a sympathetic 
and  ‘good’  character,17  the  two  bestial  heads  on  the  left  are  self-evidently  ‘bad’.  One  of  these 
volutes  is  a beakhead  (Fig.  10),  familiar  from  many  Yorkshire  doorways  which  they  ring  in  a 
menacing  crowd  with  their  massive  beaks  and  glaring  eyes;  the  other  volute  is  a vaguely 
catlike  mask  of  a type  which  is  also  quite  common,  particularly  in  corbels  (Fig.  1 1 ).  Both  are 
un-natural  creatures  with  a threatening  aspect  and  can  be  understood  as  picturing  evil 
spirits  or  demons.18  However,  in  this  case  both  motifs  have  been  distorted,  they  have  been 
deliberately  made  lopsided.  The  beakhead’s  beak  is  twisted;  of  the  mask,  one  ear  and  one 
eye  is  up  and  the  other  down.  These  two  malevolent  creatures  look  as  though  they  have  been 
in  a fight  and  lost:  they  are  lesser  versions  of  Satan  in  a Harrowing  of  Hell  scene,  who  is 
trussed  up,  trampled  on  and  pinned  down  by  the  victorious  Christ.19  Whereas  Death  was 
forced  to  give  up  Adam  and  Eve  and  a crowd  of  the  dead,  these  two  individual  demons  have 
been  forced  to  emit  the  swags  of  foliage  in  the  upper  part  of  the  capital.  A bestial  mask 
emitting  foliage  embodies  in  a direct  and  simple  manner  the  same  idea  as  a complex  narra- 
tive illustration  of  the  Harrowing  of  Hell  - that  death  is  forced  to  yield  its  prey  to  Christ,  that 
there  is  life  after  death  for  believers. 

Below  the  foliage,  resting  on  the  cable-moulded  ring,  are  two  lion-headed  creatures.  The 
one  on  the  right,  best  seen  from  the  chancel,  is  a complete  little  lion  (Fig.  11).  It  emits  one 
foliage  leaf  from  its  mouth  and  has  a tail  which  is  tipped  with  another  leaf.  The  simple  tail  of 
this  small  lion  may  be  compared  to  elaborated  ones  on  those  bolder  lions  in  Romanesque 
sculpture  which  represent  Christ.20  There  are  three  lion-headed  creatures  in  total  on  the  left 
hand  capitals.  None  are  given  lavish  manes,  nor  do  they  look  directly  at  the  viewer:  these 
creatures  are  modest  individuals,  part  of  the  composition  and  not  the  centre  of  it.  They 
could  represent  man  reborn  in  heaven,  ‘a  new  creature’  made  like  Christ,  a younger,  adopted, 
brother  of  the  resurrected  Christ,  who  is  leo  fortis , the  strong  lion  (John  20:17,  Romans 
8:23).  The  leafy  tongue  of  the  small  lion  is  comparable  in  meaning  to  the  foliate  breath 

17  The  symmetry,  and  thus  perfection,  of  those  in  heaven  is  clear  in  more-developed  examples,  see 
E.  Kitzinger,  ‘Some  Reflections  on  Portraiture  in  Byzantine  Art’,  in  The  Art  of  Byzantium  and  the 
Medieval  West,  (Bloomington,  1976),  VIII,  pp.  264-267.  This  essay  compares  the  depiction  of  the 
blessed  with  that  of  the  living. 

IH  The  presence  of  devils  ready  to  pounce  was  taken  for  granted  in  the  early  medieval  period,  see  for 
example  Bede  on  the  life  of  Fursey,  History  of  the  English  Church  and  People , III. 19;  and  Eadmer 
in  his  Life  of  Anselm,  11.18;  in  drawings  evil  spirits  are  shown  waiting  at  the  deathbed  to  carry  off  the 
souls  of  sinners,  or  pulling  climbers  off  the  ladder  to  heaven. 

19  For  example,  Tiberius  Psalter,  fol.  14r,  see  F.  Wormald,  ‘An  English  eleventh-century  Psalter  with 
pictures’,  BQoo/o  5oc.,  38  (1962),  pi.  16. 

20  Resurrexit  dominus  hodie,  leo  fortis,  christ us  filius  dei  is  part  of  a 10th  c.  trope  for  Easter  in  the 
Winchester  Troper.  It  appears  in  the  Quem  queritis  dialogue,  a very  widespread  formula,  see  The 
Winchester  Psalter,  ed.  W.  H.  Frere,  Henry  Bradshaw  Soc.  8 (London,  1894),  pp.  17,  xvi-xvii.  For  a 
lion  representing  the  resurrected  Christ,  see  R.  Wood,  ‘The  Romanesque  Tomb-slab  at  Bridlington 
Priory’,  YAJ,  75  (2003),  pp.  73-4,  fig.  9. 



Fig.  12  Lion  and  bird 

emitted  by  the  man  in  the  centre  capital  on  the  right  side. 

Whereas  the  small  lion  on  the  right  of  the  capital  is  a complete  more-or-less  natural  animal, 
the  lion’s  head  next  to  it  is  combined  with  other  parts  to  make  another,  larger,  invented 
creature  that  fills  the  remainder  of  the  capital  (Fig.  10).  It  has  the  head  of  a lion,  the  scaly 
neck  of  a snake,  a pair  of  winged  forelegs  and  a scaly  and  beaded  tail:  this  creature  is  termed 
a wyvern,  and  is  a combination  of  the  lion  with  a snake.  In  bestiaries  the  wyvern  is  dealt  with 
under  the  general  heading  of  ‘Snake’  and  may  be  illustrated  with  or  without  wings.  Although 
there  are  understandably  many  negative  anecdotes  about  snakes,  the  text  usually  includes  a 
positive  one  derived  from  Roman  classical  tradition  which  saw  in  the  snake’s  shedding  of  its 
skin  and  the  revealing  of  a ‘new’  body  a suggestion  of  eternal  life.21  There  is  an  example  on 
the  tympanum  at  Dinton  (Bucks)  where  two  lion-headed  wyverns  flank  the  Tree  of  Life  and 
an  accompanying  inscription  certifies  the  interpretation  of  these  animals  as  representing 
the  blessed  in  eternal  life.22  On  a tympanum  at  Knook  (Wilts)  a wingless  wyvern  and  a lion 

21  J.  H.  Wheatcroft,  ‘Classical  Ideology  in  the  Medieval  Bestiary’,  in  The  Mark  of  the  Beast , ed.  D. 
Hassig  (New  York,  1999),  pp.  141-159. 

22  L.  Musset,  Angleterre  Romane,  1 (Saint-Leger,1967),  pi.  6.  For  the  inscription  and  a translation, 
see  C.  Keyser,  Tympana  and^Lintels , 2nd  ed.  (London,  1927),  p.  xxx. 



Fig.  13  Bird  and  bird-lion 

together  inhabit  the  symmetrical  foliage  of  the  Tree  of  Life.23  On  the  capital  at  Liverton  the 
two  creatures,  the  small  lion  and  the  wyvern,  are  therefore  seen  in  “Paradise”,  and  perhaps 
they  are  singing  praises  to  God,  since  they  both  have  their  heads  turned  upwards  and 
eastwards,  that  is,  towards  the  altar.  The  angels  and  the  blessed  were  understood  to  be 
singing  eternal  praises,  being  joined  in  this  activity  by  earthly  worshippers. 

Further  creatures  are  on  the  capital  nearest  the  nave  (Figs.  12,  13).  Here  there  is  another 
small  lion,  a large  bird  straddling  the  angle  and  a beaked,  winged  quadruped  sucking  its  leafy 
tail.  The  lion  (Fig.  12)  is  similar  to  the  small  one  in  the  chancel  though  it  does  not  emit  foliage 
but  bares  two  rows  of  even  teeth  instead.  These  are  not  the  pointed  teeth  of  a predator  but 
the  square  ones  of  a man  or  a herbivore:  it  is  a peaceful  lion  - a new  sort  of  lion.  The  beaked 
quadruped  on  the  south  face  of  this  capital  (Fig.  13)  has  wings  from  its  forelegs  as  does  the 
wyvern  in  the  capital  near  the  chancel.  The  creature  does  not  have  ears,  so  it  is  not  a griffin: 
it  is  a creature  combining  the  features,  and  symbolic  qualities,  of  bird  and  lion.  It  is  a new 
creature,  another  invention  giving  form  to  the  unknown  spiritual  body  that  believers  will 
have  in  the  resurrection  life  (1  Cor.  15:35-38).  The  bird  portion  could  well  be  of  the  same 
species  as  the  large  bird  on  the  angle,  the  last  creature  remaining  to  be  discussed. 

23  Keyser,  Tympana , pi.  34;  R.  Wood,  ‘The  Two  Lions  at  Milborne  Port’,  Somerset  Archaeology  & 
Natural  History,  141  (1998),  fig.  2,  pp.  4-5. 



The  bird  on  the  angle  stands  frontally  (Figs.  12,  13)  and,  whereas  in  a broader  or  more 
sophisticated  capital  the  body  could  project  forwards  so  that  the  bird’s  wings  would  be  held 
up,  displayed  or  extended  in  a natural  way,  here  there  is  too  little  depth,  and  no  room  at  all 
to  the  sides  because  of  the  other  animals,  which  are  themselves  upended  for  lack  of  space. 
The  sculptor  has  crossed  the  wings  in  front  of  the  bird  in  an  unnatural  manner.  The  bird  has 
thick  strong  legs  with  long-clawed  feet,  and  between  them  the  tail  can  be  seen.  A bird  on  the 
angle  like  this  is  quite  common  on  capitals  on  the  continent.  In  Germany  or  Italy  it  would 
routinely  be  described  as  an  eagle  and,  while  this  may  sometimes  be  reasonable,  alternative 
species  should  perhaps  be  considered.  In  particular,  the  characteristic  beak  of  an  eagle 
would  not  be  well-illustrated  by  the  beak  of  the  bird  on  the  angle  at  Liverton,  which  is  evenly- 
curved  and  tapered,  not  bent  or  hooked.  It  is  certain,  however,  that  this  bird  is  too  heavy  in  the 
beak  and  too  thick  or  long  in  the  leg  to  be  the  favourite  bird  of  early  Christian  art,  the  dove. 

The  eagle  was  much  used  in  classical  art,  which  had  such  an  influence  on  Christian  forms. 
Familiarity  with  the  earlier  work  may  account  for  the  widespread  assumption  in  Italy  and 
Germany  that  a bird  on  the  angle  of  a Romanesque  capital  must  be  an  eagle:  but  by  the 
twelfth  century  many  other  sources  were  influential.  There  are  more  birds  carved  in 
England,  not  dissimilar  from  Liverton’s,  which  have  heavy  beaks,  strong  legs  and  a displayed 
rail,  for  example,  at  Hampnett  (Gloucs)  and  at  Melbourne  (Derbyshire).  In  three  out  of  the 
four  examples  in  Figure  14  the  birds  hold  a stone  in  one  foot,  which  attribute  is  enough  to 
define  them  as  cranes,  according  to  bestiary  texts.24  The  birds  at  bottom  right  (from  Mel- 
bourne) are  long-beaked,  long-legged  birds  with  large  tails,  so  they  resemble  cranes,  and  they 
are  in  the  heavenly  context  of  abundant  symmetrical  foliage.  None  of  the  birds  is  holding  a 
stone  but  since  they  are  depicted  in  heaven  they  certainly  need  no  longer  be  standing  on 
guard.  The  bird  on  the  angle  at  Liverton  has  the  straight  tail  and  short  legs  of  the  Hampnett 
birds  rather  than  the  natural  crane’s  distinctive  flounced  tail  and  long  legs  as  at  Melbourne, 
bottom  left.  Both  cranes  and  eagles  might  have  been  seen  in  the  skies  of  Norman  England 
but,  as  with  foliage,  sculptors  followed  conventional  models  which  were  only  tokens  of 
physical  reality.25 

The  crane  was  more  popular  with  the  authors  of  the  bestiaiy  than  the  eagle  was,  for  while 
a number  of  largely  negative  anecdotes  are  attached  to  the  eagle,  the  crane  could  support  a 
unified,  lengthy  and  positive  narrative  - this  bird  ‘can  teach  the  nature  of  religious  life’.26  The 
bestiaries  say  that  cranes  holding  stones  represent  those  who  watch  faithfully  through  the 
night  of  this  world  on  behalf  of  their  companions.27  Combining  this  character  with  a revi- 
sion for  Christian  use  of  the  old  fable  of  the  Fox  and  the  Crane,  the  bird  became  the  symbol 
of  one  who  would  eventually  feast  at  the  heavenly  banquet  as  a reward  for  his  steadfast 
faithfulness.  This  fable  was  illustrated  at  Melbourne,  where  the  worn  carving  to  the  right  of 

24  For  a photograph  of  the  two  cranes  drinking  from  a chalice,  see  M.  Tisdall,  God’s  Beasts 
(Plymouth,  1998),  fig.  125.  Despite  the  caption,  the  birds  are  not  doves  because  each  clutches  a stone. 
For  the  examples  at  Melbourne,  see  Wood,  ‘The  Romanesque  Church  at  Melbourne’,  Derbyshire 
Archaeol.  J.,  126  (2006),  pp.  133,  144-46;  fig.  5,  plates  4,  13. 

25  D.  Hill,  ‘The  Crane  and  the  Gyrfalcon  in  Anglo-Saxon  England’,  Medieval  Life,  3 (1995),  p.  32, 
and  cover  illus. 

26  The  Aberdeen  bestiary  fol.46  on  Grues,  the  crane.  See  web-site  at 

27  T.  H.  White,  The  Book  of  Beasts  (London,  1954  reprinted  Stroud,  1992),  pp.  110-12. 



Fig.  14  The  Crane  at  Hampnett  (Gloucs),  top  and  Melbourne  (Derbys),  bottom 

the  chalice  is  of  a fox  reaching  up  but  unable  to  drink  (Fig.  14,  bottom  left).28  Contrast  this 
teaching  about  the  afterlife,  so  appropriate  to  the  suggested  context  at  Liverton,  with  one  of 
the  favourable  anecdotes  about  the  eagle:  the  bird  is  a model  for  ‘flying  high’  to  seek  refresh- 
ment with  God,  and  thus  gaining  renewed  strength  to  return  to  daily  living.29  This  moral, 
related  to  life  on  earth  not  to  life  in  heaven,  makes  the  eagle  unlikely  to  be  the  species  carved 
on  the  left  side  of  the  chancel  arch  at  Liverton. 

If  the  bird  were  indeed  a crane  and  represented  one  of  the  flock  of  the  faithful  in  heaven, 
it  would  be  a fitting  counterpart  to  the  good  dogs  belonging  to  the  pack  on  the  opposite 
capital,  who  represent  the  faithful  among  the  congregation.  The  carvings  would  then  present 
to  the  parishioners  in  the  nave  the  faithful  (the  huntsman  and  the  two  obedient  dogs)  as 
transformed  into  the  inhabitants  of  heaven  (the  crane  and  the  two  other  creatures).  This 
change  seems  to  be  paralleled  in  another  scheme  with  a boar  hunt,  that  on  a doorway  at 
Little  Langford  (Wiltshire),  where  there  are  three  dogs  with  their  huntsman  on  the  lintel 
and,  in  the  tympanum,  three  dove-like  birds  sitting  in  foliage  next  to  St.  Peter  (Fig.  15).30 

28  also  Wood,  ‘Bridlington’,  pp.  71,  73;  fig.  6. 

29  White,  Book  of  Beasts,  pp.  105,  107.  An  eagle  in  profile  flying  upwards  is  carved  at  Stillingfleet 
on  a voussoir  of  the  south  doorway,  one  of  three  creatures  enacting  some  allegory.  The  beak  is  clearly 
hooked  and  the  tip  overlaps  the  lower  mandible. 

30  As  well  as  the  boar-hunt,  a number  of  other  subjects  and  forms  at  Little  Langford  occur  at 
churches  mentioned  in  this  paper:  a capital  with  a woven  pattern,  and  next  to  it,  one  with  a 
symmetrical  man  and  foliage  trails:  this  distorted  figure  is  woven  into  the  foliage  trails  as  figures  are 
at  Melbourne.  In  the  tympanum  there  is  a panel  of  star  pattern,  compare  fig.  18  (Kirk  Levington). 
See  Wood,  ‘St  Marychurch’,  pp.  94;  95-96. 



Fig.  15  Little  Langford  (Wilts):  doorway  (photo:  Michael  Tisdall) 

The  ‘gesture’  the  bird  makes  with  its  wings  is  not  a natural  one.  No  bird  can  physically 
stand  like  this:  this  is  a human  posture,  and  consistent  with  the  bird  representing  a human 
being.  Just  as  the  gesture  of  the  angel  on  the  other  side  of  the  arch  accords  with  its  narrative 
significance,  expressing  awe  and  surprise,  so  this  abnormal  position  of  the  wings  could 
describe  the  attitude  of  the  human  soul  in  heaven.  The  tip  of  the  bird’s  beak  is  sunk  in  its 
breast,  which  may  be  a further  meaningful  detail  and  not  just  a practical  precaution  at  the 
angle.  Human  postures  with  the  head  lowered  and  the  hands  folded  across  the  bowed  body 
suggest  inwardness,  self-effacement  and  humility,  and  were  used  in  personifications  of  Piety 
in  Regensburg  manuscripts  of  the  1020s. : 31 

The  middle  capital  on  the  left  side  is  again  a small  one,  and  it  has  only  a pattern,  but  it 
should  not  be  overlooked  on  either  account  (Fig  4).  Grid  patterns  were  used  to  indicate 
‘heaven’  in  manuscript  illuminations,32  and  woven  patterns  may  have  borrowed  some 
importance  from  earlier  insular  patterning  of  a more  elaborate  kind.  The  woven  pattern  is 
not  common  in  English  Romanesque  sculpture,  but  tends  to  be  found  on  chancel  arches  as, 
for  example,  at  Healaugh,  West  Riding.33  The  purity  and  regularity  of  geometric  forms  were 
thought  a fitting  equivalent  for  the  highest  spiritual  presence.34  Considering  the  three  left- 

31  H.  Mayr-Harting,  Ottoman  Book  Illumination:  an  historical  study,  I,  (London,  1999),  figs.  76,  77, 
figures  labelled  pie  tat  is  and  pietas  in  corner  ornaments  ( Uta  Codex,  Montecassino  Gospel  Book). 
For  posture,  compare  Wood,  ‘Kirkburn’,  fig.  34. 

32  R.  Wood,  ‘Geometric  Patterns  in  English  Romanesque  Sculpture’,  J.B.A.A.,  154  (2001),  pp.  12-14. 

33  Wood,  ‘Patterns’,  p.  17,  figs.  20,  21. 

34  See  M.  H.  Caviness,  ‘Images  of  Divine  Order  and  the  Third  Mode  of  Seeing’,  Gesta,  22/2  (1983), 
pp.  99-120. 



Fig.  16  Chancel  arch,  outer  order 

hand  capitals  as  a group,  this  central  one  with  its  pattern  may  suggest  the  holy  of  holies  in  the 
centre  of  heaven.35 

The  potential  for  using  this  chancel  arch  as  a visual  aid  extends  into  the  imposts  and 
arches.  The  two  orders  of  chevron  mouldings  frame  the  chancel  space  and  suggest  the  power 
and  glory  of  God’s  presence  on  the  altar  there  (Fig.  2).36  The  imposts  (Figs.  3,  4)  and  the 
outer  arch  (Figs.  2,  16)  are  rich  in  foliage  patterns.  The  foliage  in  the  arch  is  emitted  by 
bestial  masks  which  resemble  those  often  seen  glaring  from  corbels.  These  things  again 
suggest  resurrection  and  heaven. 

Local  comparisons 

There  is  little  that  can  be  discovered  about  the  builders  of  the  basic  nave  and  chancel. 
Related  or  nearby  churches  of  the  period  have  either  been  demolished  or  are  radically 
altered  from  their  original  form:  Hilton  and  Kirk  Levington  are  the  nearest,  most  complete 
buildings  for  comparison.  However,  questions  about  the  origins  of  the  sculptors  of  the 
chancel  arch  and  of  their  models,  and  about  the  designer  of  the  particular  teaching  scheme 
in  the  capitals  may  fruitfully  occupy  the  rest  of  this  paper. 

The  gift  of  the  church  to  Guisborough  Priory  by  Henry  son  of  Conan  took  place  some 
time  after  1170  and  was  confirmed  in  1218.  At  the  time  it  was  built  therefore,  in  the  1 130s  or 
40s,  Liverton  church  was  in  lay  hands,  it  was  the  small  church  of  a small  lord.  The  highly- 
skilled  men  who  must  have  been  involved  in  making  the  chancel  arch  were  no  doubt  prima- 
rily in  the  area  to  serve  a great  church  or  a religious  community,  that  is,  either  Guisborough 
Priory  or  Whitby  Abbey  (respectively  Augustinian  and  Benedictine  communities).37 
Unfortunately,  little  sculpture  of  the  early  twelfth  century  remains  for  comparison  at  either 

35  Compare  Hildegard  of  Bingen,  Scivias , trs.  B.  Hozeksi  (Santa  Fe,  1986),  vision  6,  miniature 
9,  p.  66. 

36  Wood,  ‘Patterns’,  pp.  22-25. 

37  The  priory  of  Handale  or  Grendale  was  founded  in  1133  by  William  Percy  of  Dunsley  in  a valley 
south  of  Loftus  and  east  of  Liverton.  It  was  a small  Cistercian  nunnery  that  has  left  little  historical 
or  material  record,  see  VCH  YorkshirelW,  p.  165. 



Fig.  17  Kirk  Levington:  chancel  arch  capitals  with  bird 

site.  Sculpture  from  Guisborough  exhibited  in  1993  included  only  one  item  datable  before 
the  late  twelfth  century,  this  was  a corbel  with  a mask  which  is  similar,  but  not  similar 
enough,  to  masks  on  the  label  at  Liverton.38  Whitby  Abbey  has  yielded  a few  fragments  of 
12th  century  sculpture,  but  nothing  that  resembles  the  Liverton  work.39  No  obvious  base 
suggests  itself  from  which  the  clerical  designer  of  the  scheme  or  the  craftsmen  might  have 

Luckily,  the  manorial  situation  gives  a strong  hint  as  to  where  Liverton’s  loyalties  lay.  The 
mesne  lords  were  the  Brus  family,  and  Robert  de  Brus  had  founded  Guisborough  Priory 
some  time  between  1119  and  1124,  while  his  brother  William  was  the  prior  until  at  least 
1132,  perhaps  until  1139.  Robert  himself  died  about  1141,  but  the  family  remained  patrons 
of  the  priory  up  to  the  Dissolution.40  Of  the  local  churches  in  the  foundation  gift,  there  is 
little  if  any  twelfth-century  fabric  left  at  Danby  and  Skelton,  the  chief  places  in  the  Brus 
lordship.  At  Kirk  Levington  church  however,  another  in  the  gift,  something  of  the  chancel 
arch  survives  and  this  includes  a (now  headless)  bird  on  the  angle  of  a capital  (Fig.  17).  On 
both  sides  of  the  chancel  arch,  carving  extends  onto  the  ‘wing’  of  the  capital  of  the  outermost 
order  to  include  a lion:  at  Liverton  the  boar  is  in  this  position."  Opposite  the  bird  is  a capital 
with  a man’s  head  on  the  angle,  accompanied  by  a panel  with  chip-carved  stars  and  another 
incised  with  a geometric  pattern  (Fig.  18).  If  the  bird  is  a crane  and  teaches  endurance  in  the 
hope  of  final  reward,  this  teaching  is  reinforced  by  the  motif  of  the  man’s  head  with  stars,  a 
veiy  literal  representation  of  man  in  heaven.  The  motifs  of  the  man  among  stars  and  the  man 
emitting  foliage  are  equivalent  since  both  picture  man  living  in  the  after-life.  The  use  of  star 
patterns  rather  than  foliage  at  Kirk  Levington  suggests  an  earlier  date  than  the  Liverton 

38  Romanesque:  Stone  sculpture  from  Medieval  England,  ed.  B.  Hevwood,  (Leeds,  1993),  p.  44,  pi. 

39  Two  small  masks  are  exhibited  by  English  Heritage  at  the  Abbey.  Photographs  in  the  Conway 
Library  show  further  fragments  but,  again,  nothing  resembling  the  sculpture  discussed  in  this  paper. 

40  VCH  North  Riding ; 2,  pp.  383-4.  For  William,  see  Janet  Burton,  The  Monastic  Order  in  Yorkshire 
1069-1215 , (Cambridge,  1999),  p.  78.  The  Brus  monument  in  Guisborough  parish  church  came  from 
the  Priory  church  adjacent,  as  did  the  tile  mosaic  reset  around  it. 

41  The  chancel  arch  at  Adel,  near  Leeds,  also  has  carving  in  this  position,  but  it  is  not  common  there. 
Motifs  at  Adel  quite  often  recur  in  the  Wolds  area. 



Fig.  18  Kirk  Levington  chancel  arch:  man  and  stars 

work,  as  does  the  character  of  the  contemporary  south  doorway  with  its  orders  of  shallow 
chevrons  and  the  same  compact,  voluted  capitals  (Fig.  19).42  But  the  chancel  arch  at  Liverton, 
for  all  its  foliage,  also  has  that  short  length  of  chip-carving  at  the  north  end  of  the  impost, 
so  the  two  styles  were  in  a period  of  overlap. 

In  the  mid  twelfth  century  the  Brus  family  were  the  mesne  lords  at  Easington,  as  they  were 
at  Liverton,  with  the  Rossel  family  as  under-tenants.43  The  patronage  of  the  church 
was  bequeathed  to  Guisborough  priory  by  Roger  de  Rossel  sometime  between  1 154  and 
1186.44  The  present  nineteenth-century  church  at  Easington  preserves  most  of  its  twelfth- 
century  chancel  arch  reset  in  a balcony  room  at  the  first  stage  of  the  tower:  the  carving  is 
likely  to  be  earlier  than  the  date  of  the  gift  to  the  priory.45  This  arch  too  has  a bird  on  the 
angle  of  one  capital;  unfortunately  it  also  is  headless  (Fig.  20).  There  are,  or 
were,  two  heads  of  men  on  the  corners  of  other  capitals,  and  these  men  emit  foliage  trails 
(Fig.  21,  compare  Fig.  8).  The  chancel  arches  at  Kirk  Levington  and  Easington  have  limited 
teaching  in  their  capitals  compared  with  that  at  Liverton,  nor  is  either  arch  as  large, 
however,  all  three  churches  had  some  recorded  connection  to  Guisborough  Priory,  and  all 

42  VCH North  Riding ; II,  pp.  262-3  with  drawing  of  chancel  arch.  The  nave  was  entirely  rebuilt  on 
old  foundations  in  1888.  The  original  south  doorway  was  reused,  and  looks  to  be  of  early  date.  The 
second  order  had  octagonal  shafts,  but  all  the  decoration  is  geometric. 

43  Liverton  formed  a parochial  chapelry  to  Easington  in  1587,  VCH  North  Riding, ; II,  p.  340. 

44  VCH  North  Riding, ; II,  pp.  340,  342,  336.  Roger  was  a priest. 

45  VCH  North  Riding. ; II,  p.  342;  pi.  opp.  p.  344.  Easington  is  about  2 miles  east  of  Loftus.  Loftus  was 
waste  and  had  a church  (but  not  a priest)  in  1086;  the  church  was  given  to  Guisborough  Priory  some 
time  between  c.  1180  and  1205  by  William  de  Sauchay,  VCH  North  Riding,  II,  p.  386.  A pattern, 
perhaps  derived  from  hanging  lamps,  is  used  on  one  capital  and  has  otherwise  only  been  seen  on  a 
capital  at  Kirkburn  church,  which  is  usually  dated  to  c.  1140. 



three  chancel  arches  have  a bird 
straddling  the  angle  of  a capital, 
a motif  otherwise  rare  or 
unknown  in  England.  The 
appearance  of  each  bird  is 
distinct  (Figs.  12,  17,  20). 
Liverton  has  a bird  whose  pose  is 
uniquely  adapted  to  the  teaching 
scheme,  Kirk  Levington  and 
Easington  have  birds  with  spread 
wings,  which  is  the  usual  pose 
on  the  continent.  At  Kirk 
Levington  the  model  seems  not  to 
have  been  taken  from  sculpture 
but  from  a drawing,  and  the 
Easington  bird,  though  having 
conventional  sculptural 
treatment  of  the  wings,  does  not 
have  the  heavy  legs  of  the  bird  at 
Liverton  but  more  those  of  a dove. 
Placing  a bird  on  the  angle  is 
therefore  not  due  to  the  fancy  of 
a single  workman  but  must  have 
originated  with  those  in  charge 
of  the  content,  those  who  supplied 
the  models  and  described  the 
desired  effect  to  the  various 

The  designer  Fig.  19  Kirk  Levington:  south  doorway 

It  may  be  necessary  to  remind  the  reader  at  this  point  that  the  Augustinians  were  not 
monks  but  regular  canons,  they  were  priests  who  lived  in  communities;  the  order  came  to 
favour  in  England  in  the  early  twelfth  century  because  of  its  potential  for  efficient  parochial 
work.  In  this  regard  the  authority  over  them  would  have  been  that  of  the  local  bishop,  that  is, 
at  this  time  in  Yorkshire,  Archbishop  Thurstan,  whose  name  appears  in  charters  as  encour- 
aging donations  to  the  order.46  A study  of  sculpture  at  Kirkburn  church  in  the  East  Riding, 
which  had  been  part  of  the  foundation  gift  to  Guisborough  priory,  showed  corbel  sculpture 
was  placed  with  a practical  concern  for  effective  teaching,  in  that  individual  corbel  subjects 
each  embodying  extended  teaching  were  grouped  on  the  south  side  of  the  nave,  with  a more 
general  array  of  corbels  on  the  less  frequented  north  side.47  Good  lighting  and  shelter  may 
have  been  considered  here,  as  well  as  the  oft-cited  symbolic  opposition  of  dark  and  light. 

46  For  instances  of  Thurstan’s  involvement,  seej.  C.  Dickinson,  The  Origins  of  the  Austin  Canons 
and  their  Introduction  into  England ’,  (London,  1950),  pp.  127-8,  and  the  gift  by  Robert  and  William 
Fossard  (discussed  in  the  section  below  on  the  designer;  notes  54-56). 

47  Wood,  ‘Kirkburn’,  p.  25,  etc. 



Fig.  20  Easington:  bird  on  reconstructed  chancel  arch 

Certainly  local  climate  could  have  influenced  the  placing  of  sculptural  schemes  inside 
churches  on  the  north  side  of  the  North  York  Moors,  rather  than  on  their  doorways.  There 
are  no  remains  of  a doorway  with  sculpture  at  Liverton,  but  the  greater  part  of  any  teaching 
material  must  surely  have  been  on  the  chancel  arch.  At  Kirk  Levington  it  is  the  carving  on 
the  chancel  arch  (Figs.  17,  18)  rather  than  the  doorway  (Fig.  19)  that  has  the  lessons.  There 
are  two  entwined  serpents  on  one  capital,  but  that  seems  to  be  all  that  has  been  added  to  a 
standard  early  twelfth-century  doorway. 

In  the  East  Riding  it  has  been  observed  that  the  Augustinians  could  be  involved  in  sculp- 
ture at  churches  which  they  did  not  hold,  and  this  seems  to  have  been  the  case  at  Liverton 
and  Easington,  which  both  had  lay  patrons.  At  Bridlington  and  Kirkburn  the  Augustinians 
used  the  fable  of  the  Fox  and  Crane  to  embody  for  the  layman  the  idea  of  perseverance  in  this 
world  and  reward  in  the  next.48  However,  it  has  been  suggested  above,  from  the  parallel  with 
the  tympanum  at  Little  Langford  (Wilts.),  that  at  Liverton  the  crane  might  represent  the 
resurrection  body  of  the  huntsman,  that  is,  the  one  who  guides  the  believers,  most  obviously, 
their  priest.  Some  bestiary  manuscripts  use  the  flock  of  cranes  to  allude  to  an  ideal  commu- 
nity of  brothers,  fratres,  stressing,  for  example,  the  co-operative  behaviour  a flock  of  cranes.49 
These  passages  seem  to  be  describing  communities  of  Austin  canons,  for  the  term  fratres 

48  Aesop’s  fable  tells  of  the  meals  given  by  the  Fox  to  the  Crane  and  vice  versa.  This  was  reworked 
at  some  stage  to  give  the  Fox  a bad  character,  and  the  meal  at  which  the  patient  Crane  can  at  last 
feast  becomes  one  in  heaven.  Other  cranes  are,  for  example,  carved  at  Kirkburn,  Bridlington  and 
Melbourne  (Derbys.),  in  each  case  in  an  Augustinian  scheme. 

49  See  Wood,  ‘Melbourne’,  p.45,  for  a flock  of  Cranes  as  a symbol  of  an  Augustinian  community. 



Fig.  21  Easington:  man  and  foliage  trails 

was  applied  to  them  by  others  as  well  as  being  used  between  themselves.50  It  seems  only 
reasonable  to  suggest  that  the  designer  of  the  teaching  scheme  in  the  capitals  of  the  chancel 
arch  at  Liverton  would  have  been  an  Augustinian,  and  one  likely  to  have  been  based,  at  least 
temporarily,  at  Guisborough. 

As  with  workmen,  there  is  virtually  nothing  that  can  be  known  of  designers  except  by 
tracing  the  distinctive  features  of  their  work.  We  cannot  be  sure  they  travelled  to  all  the 
places  for  which  they  produced  designs,  though  it  would  seem  practical,  even  necessary. 
Regular  canons  did  not  take  vows  of  stability  or  enclosure  as  monks  did,  and  in  the  early 
twelfth  century  they  might  expect  to  live  away  from  their  community  house  for  a period  in 
order  to  minister  at  a parochial  church,  or  perhaps  indeed  for  this  more  specialised  work.51 
These  works  in  Yorkshire  may  not  be  without  comparison.  J.  C.  Dickinson  mentions  the 
house  of  St.  Ruf,  in  the  south  of  France,  which  ‘in  the  late  eleventh  and  early  twelfth  centu- 
ries... ranked  among  the  finest  flowers  of  the  order..’,  this  house  ‘was  the  centre  of  an 

50  The  Aberdeen  bestiary  seems  to  be  written  for  a community,  comparing  to  cranes  ‘those  discern- 
ing brothers  who  provide  temporal  goods  for  their  brethren  in  common  and  have  a special  concern 
for  each  one  of  the  community.  They  watch  over  the  obedience  of  their  brothers,  as  tar  as  they  can, 
protecting  them  prudently  from  the  assaults  of  devils  and  the  incursions  of  this  world’  (fol.  46r); 
translation  from  web-site,  see  note  26.  On  the  use  of  the  word  fratres  (brothers)  for  the  Augustinians, 
E.  J.  Dobson,  The  Origins  of  Ancrene  Wisse,  (Oxford,  1976),  p.  42-45,  says  that  the  members  of 
Augustinian  congregations  were  regularly  called  fratres  in  their  legislation,  and  that  writers  in  the 
thirteenth  century  likened  the  preaching  friars  (also  fratres)  to  the  Augustinians.  The  Bridlington 
Dialogue  uses  the  term,  see  Robert  of  Bridlington:  The  Bridlington  Dialogue:  an  exposition  of  the 
Rule  of  St  Augustine  for  the  life  of  the  Clergy , trails,  and  ed.  a religious  of  C.S.M.V.  (London,  1960). 
Monks  would  presumably  have' addressed  those  among  them  who  were  priests  as  pater. 

51  Robert  of  Bridlington:  Dialogue , pp.  32-37.  Also  discussed  in  Dickinson,  Origins,  pp.  219-20. 



Fig.  22  Lythe:  man  and  foliage  trails 

important  school  of  architects  and  sculptors’.52  Where  in  England  might  our  regular  canon 
skilled  in  the  art  of  design  have  been  based?  Some  features  of  the  design  at  Kirkburn  can  be 
related  to  that  at  Melbourne  in  Derbyshire:53  if  the  same  man  had  worked  also  at  Liverton, 
it  seems  likely  that  he  would  have  been  permanently  based  at  a priory  more  central  that 
Guisborough.  In  this  regard  it  may  be  worth  noting  that  the  motif  of  the  man  and  foliage 
trails  (Fig.  8),  occurs  not  only  in  the  reconstructed  chancel  arch  at  Easington  (Fig.  21)  but  in 
a somewhat  similar  form  at  Lythe  (Fig.  22).  The  head  on  the  loose  capital  extends  up  into  the 
impost,  which  is  an  improvement  on  the  Easington  example,  but  a shared  feature  is  a deep 
hollow  moulding  enclosing  large  domes,  this  is  used  at  Easington  on  the  second  order  of  the 
arch,  whereas  at  Lythe  it  seems  to  have  decorated  the  jamb.  Lythe  church  and  an  estate  of  10 
oxgangs  had  been  given,  not  to  Guisborough,  but  to  Nostell  Priory  by  Robert  Fossard  and 
William  his  son,  this  was  at  its  foundation  in  1121.51  Nostell  was  the  first  Augustinian  house 
in  Yorkshire,  and  although  this  priory  received  many  gifts  from  the  other  Ridings,  Lythe  is 
the  only  church  given  to  it  from  the  North  Riding.55  Niel  Fossard  gave  with  it  churches  and 
land  at  Wharram-le-Street  in  the  East  Riding,  and  Bramham  in  the  West  Riding;  the  three 
were  combined  as  a prebend  of  York  Minster  by  Archbishop  Thurstan:  the  canons  had 

52  Dickinson,  Origins , pp.  42,  194.  Recent  works  mention  priories  of  the  order  in  France  and  Spain 
that  were  dependent  on  St  Ruf,  and  their  sculpture,  but  do  not  discuss  their  parochial  churches.  See 
U.  Vones-Liebenstein,  Saint-Ruf  und  Spanien:  studien  zur  Verbreitung  und  zum  Wirken  der 
Regularkoniker  von  Saint-Ruf  in  Avignon  auf  der  iberiscben  Halbinsel  (11.  und  12.  jahrhundert), 
(Turnhout,  1996),  pp.  17-19,  235-256,  maps;  P.  A.  Patton,  Pictorial  Narrative  in  the  Romanesque 
Cloister , (New  York,  2004),  20,  26,  68-69.  Nicholas  Breakspear  was  abbot  of  St  Ruf  by  1148,  and 
remained  so  until  becoming  pope  in  1154. 

53  Wood,  ‘Melbourne’,  p.  147. 

54  VCH North  Riding ; II,  pp.  393,  399;  John  Burton,  Monasticon  Eboracense  and  the  Ecclesiastical 
History  of  Yorkshire  (York,  1758),  p.  306.  See  also  W.  Dugdale,  Monasticon  Anglicanum  (London, 
1846)  vol.  6,  pp.  90,  92,  charter  II. 

55  The  amount  of  pre-Conquest  memorial  sculpture  might  suggest  that  Lythe  had  been  an 
important  church  at  an  earlier  period.  See  J.  T.  Lang,  Northern  Yorkshire , CASSS  VI.  (Oxford, 



‘a  pension'  from  Lythe  and  a duty  to  attend  the  chapter  in  York.56  Nostell  Priory  had  a cell  at 
Breedon-on-the-Hill,  a place  convenient  for  Melbourne,  and  the  priory  is  geographically 
central  to  the  sites  that  have  been  mentioned  for  their  Augustinian  sculpture.  Perhaps,  then, 
Nostell  was  the  base  for  the  designer,  or  a small  number  of  designers  working  in  the  same 

The  churches  at  Kirk  Levington,  Easington  and  Liverton  each  have  a bird  on  one  angle, 
and  a man  with  foliage  or  stars  on  another.  The  teaching  of  the  Austin  canons  locally,  which 
these  examples  preserve  for  us,  advocates  perseverance  on  earth  to  gain  the  new  life  in 
heaven:  the  work  at  Liverton  is  an  extended  statement  of  that  basic  message  which  would 
seem  to  be  inspired  largely  by  two  sermons  of  St.  Augustine.  Sermon  22  includes  all  the 
topics  suggested  above  for  the  capitals  of  the  chancel  arch.57  In  it,  Adam  and  Eve,  ‘the 
parents  who  begot  us  unto  death’,  are  contrasted  with  Christ  and  the  Church  (or,  later, 
‘father  God  and  mother  Church’),  who  are  ‘the  parents  who  have  begotten  us  unto  life’. 
Augustine’s  hearers  were  urged  to  repent,  they  were  told  not  to  expect  mercy  when  the  end 
comes  if  they  had  made  no  effort  to  correct  their  lives.  This  sequence  equates  to  the  content 
of  the  carving  on  the  right  side  of  the  arch:  Christ  is  represented  by  the  proxy  Gabriel, 
mother  Church  by  the  huntsman  in  the  allegory  of  the  boar-hunt,  and  their  offspring,  the 
man  reborn,  by  the  ‘green  man’  between  them.  The  sermon  continues  with  a positive 
message  for  persevering  Christians:  if  they  are  obedient  and  faithful  to  their  spiritual 
parents,  they  will  not  die  as  do  the  children  of  Eve  but  will  receive  their  true  inheritance, 
eternal  life. 58  This  sequel  is  expressed  in  the  content  of  the  left  side  of  the  arch.  A second 
text,  Sermon  151,  fills  out  two  of  these  points,  the  perseverance  necessary  for  the  Christian, 
and  the  reward  for  it.59This  use  of  this  sermon  explains  the  rare  depiction  of  aprons,  of  the 
practical  garment  rather  than  the  usual  decorative,  even  distracting,  foliage.  Augustine 
reserves  reference  to  fig-leaves  for  a discussion  in  another  sermon  of  the  calling  of  the 
disciple  Nathanael  (John  1:48),  but  in  discussing  the  Fall  in  Sermon  151  his  emphasis  is  on 
aprons  as  a sign  of  shame  and  a token  of  self-denial.  The  sermon  encourages  the  hearers  to 
resist  temptations  of  all  kinds,  the  ones  they  were  born  with  and  those  acquired  by  habit. 
Using  the  metaphorical  imageiy  of  numerous  Pauline  texts,  Augustine  emphasises  that  the 
life  of  the  just  on  earth  is  a warfare  against  temptation,  but  that  one  day  there  will  be 
victory.  Then  perishable  mankind  will  ‘put  on  immortality’  and  find  peace.60 This 
sermon  serves  to  corroborate  the  nature  of  the  creatures  on  the  left  side  of  the  arch.  It  is 
relevant  to  note  that  the  Pauline  idea  of  the  resurrection  body  was  different  from 
Augustine’s,  and  it  is  the  Pauline  version  which  is  depicted  here.  St  Paul  said  that  man  could 
not  comprehend  in  what  form  the  afterlife  would  be  lived,  but  that  man’s  earthly  body 
would  be  changed  (Philipp.  3:21)  and  that  the  resurrection  body  would  be  a spiritual  one 

56  Janet  Burton,  Monastic  Order  in  Yorkshire  1069-1215,  p.  77n. 

57  Augustine,  sermon  22.9,  10,  on  Psalm  68.  See  The  Works  of  Saint  Augustine,  Sermons , III/2,  trans. 
E.  Hill,  (New  York,  1990),  pp.  46-50. 

58  ‘Father  God  and  mother  Church’  are  mentioned  in  one  version  of  the  story  of  the  Perdix  (par- 
tridge), which  is  the  bird  prominent  on  the  doorway  and  font  in  the  Augustinian  scheme  at  Kirkburn 
church.  See  Wood,  ‘Kirkburn  Church’,  pp.  31-2,  50-1.  Augustine  also  uses  the  allegory  in  sermon  216, 
chs.  7,  8,  see  Sermons , trans.  Hill,  III/6,  p.  171. 

59  Augustine,  sermon  151,  on  Romans  7:15-25.  See  Saint  Augustine,  Sermons , III/5,  trans.  E.  Hill, 
(New  York,  1990),  pp.  40-47. 

60  Sermon  151,  chs.  2,  7 and  8 mention  warfare  and  victory;  ch.  5,  the  aprons. 



Fig.  23  St  Mary’s,  Whitby:  man  and  foliage  spirals 

( 1 Cor.  15:35-58):  Augustine  expected  a body  of  human  appearance  but  spiritual  capacities, 
one  like  Christ’s  resurrection  body,  a perfect  version  of  an  earthly  body.  Sometimes  artists, 
or  designers,  chose  one  form  (an  invented  one,  as  here)  and  sometimes  the  other,  the 
perfected  body,  as  on  the  tympanum  at  Autun,  for  example. 

The  bird  on  the  angle,  interpreted  as  a crane,  has  been  described  above  as  a motif  linked 
to  the  ministry  of  the  Augustinians,  at  least  in  its  use  as  seen  in  the  north  of  England:  the 
associated  motifs  of  a man  with  stars  or  with  foliage  are  so  much  more  widespread  in 
occurrence  that  they  must  have  been  common  to  all  ‘schools  of  design’  (if  such  a concept 
maybe  postulated).  The  popularity  of  the  motifs  is  understandable  since  they  represent  the 
resurrection  of  mankind.  Both  versions  of  the  idea  are  used  together  at  St  Mary’s,  Whitby, 
the  church  on  the  headland  next  to  the  Abbey.  This  is  a basically  twelfth-century  building 
comprising  an  aisless  nave  and  a square-ended  chancel.  The  chancel  arch  capitals  have  a 
man  with  foliage,  that  is,  with  the  unfurling  spirals  of  angle  volutes  coming  from  his  mouth 
and,  opposite  that,  a man’s  head  between  two  stars  (Figs.  23,  24).  The  carving  is  basic, 



Fig.  24  St  Mary’s,  Whitby:  man  and  stars 

shallow  and  unsophisticated."1  There  is  no  bird  on  the  angle  of  any  capital  at  Whitby,  and  the 
motif  is  not  to  be  expected  since  the  church  belonged  to  the  Benedictine  Abbey  from  1096-7. 
The  capitals  with  the  men’s  heads  are  the  only  figurative  carving  that  survives  from  the  early 
twelfth-century  church.  The  chancel  arch  and  the  south  doorway  to  the  nave  both  have 
voluted  capitals  and  an  outer  order  of  octagonal  columns,  Whitby  parish  church  thus  has 
architectural  detail  similar  to  the  church  at  Kirk  Levington,  some  30  miles  away,  at  the  far 
extreme  of  the  range  of  buildings  that  have  been  brought  into  the  present  survey  (Figs.  18, 
19).  In  the  early  post-Conquest  period,  it  would  seem  that  mason-builders  were  generally 
expected  to  carve  the  small  amount  of  individual  ornament  that  was  required.  It  is 
reasonable  that  builders  should  remained  localised,  handling  stone  whose  sources  and 
qualities  they  knew  well  and  having  a fairly  steady  supply  of  work.  On  the  other  hand,  as  will 
be  illustrated  below,  skilled  migrant  sculptors  soon  arrived,  along  with  travelling  designers, 
effecting  the  long-range  transfer  of  motifs. 

Distant  comparisons 

Any  search  for  the  origins  of  sculptors  or  models  is  always  subject  to  the  loss  of  key 
monuments,  and  chance  survival.  One  random  comparison  for  Liverton  work  that  comes  to 
mind  is  that  of  the  mask  emitting  foliage  (Fig.  1 1 ) with  a similar  mask  on  a capital  at  Stillingfleet, 

61  The  mouth  of  the  man  in  Fig.  23  has  been  damaged,  spoiling  what  was  once  a short,  inconspicuous 
incised  line,  a little  of  which  remains  on  the  left. 



Fig.  25  Stillingfleet:  capitals  of  south  doorway 

nine  miles  south  of  York  (Fig.  25).  Here  also  one  eye  and  ear  are  up,  the  other  down,  and  just 
as  striking  is  the  similar  broad,  flat  face  and  the  wide  lip  that  seems  to  extend  from  ear  to  ear. 
The  Stillingfleet  mask  is  pitted  with  small  random  holes,  like  the  serpent  in  the  Fall  scene 
(Fig.  5).  Next  to  the  mask  at  Stillingfleet  is  a ‘green  man’  with  an  elongated  head,  long  trails 
and  doubled  leaves  having  separate  tight  spirals  resembling  those  at  Liverton  (Fig.  8),  and  on 
another  capital  on  the  same  side  of  the  doorway  are  two  entwined  serpents,  a motif  used  on 
a capital  of  the  doorway  at  Kirk  Levington  but  in  a much  simpler  form.  These  similarities  are 
tantalising,  for  while  it  might  be  reasonable  to  suppose  one  man  worked  at  both  sites,  little 
else  at  Stillingfleet  suggests  any  connection  with  Liverton  - rather  the  opposite.  There  is,  for 
example,  a pair  of  masks  on  a voussoir  which  emit  a shared  pair  of  leaves,  but  here  the  stems 
are  bound  together  with  bands  or  clasps  and  seem  static  - not  like  those  at  Liverton,  twining, 
lively,  and  when  this  motif  appears  elsewhere  in  Yorkshire  it  is  in  the  form  that  is  used  at 
Stillingfleet.  The  detail  of  the  leaves  at  Liverton  are  similarly  distinct  from  the  forms  of 
leaves  used  at  several  other  Yorkshire  churches.  For  example,  at  Liverton  (Fig.  8),  the  spiral 
at  the  base  of  the  leaf  appears  separate  from  the  flutings  of  the  leaf,  almost  as  if  it  were  an 
incipient  shoot,  and  both  the  upper  and  lower  edges  of  the  leaf  have  cusped  margins  more  or 
less  in  parallel.  But  at  Riccall,  (Fig.  26),  three  miles  from  Stillingfleet,  the  tip  of  the  leaf  curves 
back  a little  and  it  is  the  last  fluting  near  the  stalk  that  makes  the  spiral;  the  upper  margin  is 
cusped  but  a lower  margin  runs  directly  from  stalk  to  tip.62 

62  If  comparable  mouldings  and  other  architectural  forms  are  sought,  this  will  tend  to  trace  work- 
shops rather  than  a designer.  Bubwith  church  in  the  East  Riding  shares  the  hollow  mouldings  of  the 
Easington  arch,  and  has  less  prominent  domes;  Bubwith  also  has  a capital  with  a woven  pattern, 
probably  from  the  main  doorway.  Brayton,  in  the  West  Riding,  again  has  domes  in  a hollow 
moulding  on  its  chancel  arch;  there  are  also  a pair  of  lions  who  turn  to  look  at  the  altar  and  long- 
headed men  with  foliage  trails. 



Fig.  26  Riccall:  leaves  on  capital  of  south  doorway 

More  impressive,  because  more  extensive  and  more  distant,  are  similarities  with  sculp- 
ture at  St.  Mary’s  parish  church  in  Tutbury  (Staffs),  about  12  miles  from  Melbourne.  It  is  a 
building  formed  out  of  the  nave  of  the  church  of  a Benedictine  Priory.  Tutbuiy,  like  Liverton, 
is  one  of  seven  sites  in  England  with  a boar-hunt,  though  the  example  here  is  in  a poor  state 
and  about  half  the  scene  is  already  lost.63  Alongside  the  lintel  having  the  remains  of  the  hunt 
is  a capital  with  a woven  pattern  and  another  with  figures  in  long  robes  holding  rectangular 
books  (Fig.  27).  These  pieces  are  all  in  the  rebuilt  south  doorway  to  the  nave,  but  on  the 
magnificent  and  highly  decorated  west  front  there  are  several  more  echoes  of  the  sculpture 
at  Liverton.64  The  arch  of  the  second  order  in  the  doorway  is  carved  in  alabaster,  and  here  in 
finely-preserved  detail  are  lions  (Fig.  28)  resembling  those  in  Figures  11  and  12.  Many 
creatures  in  this  order  have  very  narrow  straight  wings,  as  at  Liverton  (Fig.  13).  Also  in  the 
alabaster  are  leaf-like  tongues  with  prominent  tight  spirals  (Fig.  28,  compare  Figs.  8,  11),  and 
beakheads  whose  beaks  are  pitted  with  small  holes.  In  the  third  order  at  Tutbury  are  pairs  of 
masks  emitting  leaves,  and  although  the  stems  are  longer  and  make  a more  complex  twist 
than  those  on  the  chancel  arch,  they  are  twined  among  themselves  without  binding  and  they 
end  in  the  doubled  leaf  (Fig.  29,  compare  Fig.  16).  At  the  outer  edge  of  this  order  is  a row  of 
animals  resembling  the  bird-lion  at  Liverton  (Fig.  29,  compare  Fig.  13).  Masks  used  in  the 
third  order  and  alongside  the  west  window  are  somewhat  like  those  at  Liverton  in  the  outer 
arch  (Figs.  16,  29),  and  not  like  the  single  corbel  from  Guisborough.  The  foliage  pattern  used 
on  the  imposts  at  Liverton  occurs  at  Tutbury. 

63  L.  Musset,  Angleterre  Romane,  2 (Saint-Leger,1974),  pi.  86. 

64  Musset,  Angleterre  Romane , 2,  pi.  85.  The  facade  is  renewed  in  the  upper  parts. 



Fig.  27  Tutbury  (Staffs):  capitals  of  rebuilt  south  doorway 

At  Tutbury,  one  of  the  few  standard  subjects  in  the  capitals  of  the  west  doorway  is  St. 
Margaret  holding  up  a cross  and  coming  out  of  the  dragon.  This  subject  is  carved  on  the  font 
from  Cottam,  East  Riding,  but  not  often  found  in  England.  Another  capital  has  a slightly 
distorted  beakhead  being  beaten  down  by  a flying  angel  who  holds  a leaf  in  one  hand  and  a 
shield  in  the  other.  This  is  a minor  St  Michael  and  the  Dragon,  rather  as  a beakhead  or  mask 

Fig.  28  Tutbury:  second  order  of  west  doorway 



Fig.  29  Tutbury:  third  order  of  west  doorway 

emitting  foliage  is  a lesser  Harrowing  of  Hell.  There  are  lions  on  capitals  of  the  third  and 
fourth  orders  on  the  right  side,  these  have  leafy  tails  made  of  the  doubled  leaf  as  seen  in 
Figures  6 and  8.  Most  of  the  other  subjects  in  the  capitals  are  individual  compositions  of 
creatures  and  foliage  like  the  one  with  ‘St.  MichaeF,  or  they  have  figures  and  creatures  now 
so  eroded  that  their  content  is  uncertain.  Nevertheless,  the  majority  of  them  can  be 
understood  as  illustrating  evil  spirits  overcome  and  new  life  springing  from  death.  At  least 
one  capital  is  cautionary  - on  the  extreme  right  there  is  a man  held  in  the  claws  of  two 
demons.  In  contrast,  just  above  the  foliage  pattern  on  the  impost  nearby  is  a musician, 
perhaps  intended  as  an  inhabitant  of  heaven.  A similar  musician  is  on  a corbel  at  Adel. 

There  are  not  just  physical  resemblances  in  the  handling  and  in  the  motifs  used,  but 
something  more,  there  is  a common  layout  of  the  teaching  at  Tutbury  and  Liverton.  The 
arches  of  Tutbury’s  west  front  are  animated  with  carving,  but  these  are  all  repeats,  it  is  a 
chorus  of  resurrection  bodies.  As  at  Liverton,  the  individual,  varied,  subjects  are 
concentrated  in  the  capitals.65  Outside  the  regular  architectural  sculpture  of  Tutbury’s  west 
facade  and  below  the  level  of  the  capitals  are  several  slabs,  one  at  least  of  which  shows  a large 
boar  facing  the  doorway,  this  may  be  echoed  by  the  carving  in  Yorkshire  which  extends  onto 
the  wings  of  capitals.  With  so  many  parallels,  it  may  be  safe  to  say  that  at  least  the 
experienced  sculptor  capable  of  carving  the  fluent  lions  on  the  capital  in  the  chancel  worked 
at  Liverton,  and  possibly  a second  sculptor  also  worked  at  both  sites.  The  layout  of  the 
patterns  and  individual  subjects  may  have  been  part  of  workshop  practice,  but  would 

65  Contrast  the  ‘Yorkshire  School’  doorways,  with  their  typically  figurative  voussoirs,  patterned 
capitals  and  plain  imposts,  and  having  parallels  in  south-west  France. 



involve  a designer  too. 

At  Liverton,  a secular  church,  the 
capitals  include  a narrative  about 
salvation,  but  at  a monastic  church 
like  Tutbury  Priory  this  lesson 
would  presumably  have  been  too 
elementary.  The  motifs  that  take 
their  place  on  the  capitals  of  the 
west  front  - the  several  fights  of  the 
angel  or  lions  with  beakheads  and 
masks  - could  represent  the  monks’ 
spiritual  battles,  as  would  be  proper 
for  a doorway  used  by  the  monas- 
tic community.  The  church  was 
also  used  by  the  parishioners,  so 
the  south  doorway,  with  the  boar 
hunt,  was  perhaps  the  layman’s 
entrance.66  Although  the  Liverton 
sculpture  is  far  less  extensive  than 
the  Tutbury  west  front,  it  is  not  a 
reduction  or  reproduction  of 

Tutbury:  the  Liverton  programme 

Fig.  30  San  Ambrogio,  Milan:  bird  on  a capital  in  the  is  the  more  complex.  The  question 

as  to  which  is  earlier  is  probably 
not  possible  to  resolve  without  knowing  what  was  made  for  Guisborough  Priory  itself,  or 
perhaps  for  Lythe:  and  these  are  things  that  we  are  unlikely  ever  to  know. 

Further  comparisons,  though  of  a general  kind,  can  be  made  with  eleventh-  and  twelfth- 
century  work  in  Italy.  The  Augustinian  movement  began  in  Italy  under  Gregory  VII  and 
Peter  Damian,  and  had  its  first  foundations  there,  so  that  it  need  not  surprise  us  if  motifs 
seen  in  north  Italy  seem  to  have  reached  Yorkshire.67  Transference  from  Germany,  of  visual 
ideas  ranging  from  small  details  to  architectural  plans,  have  been  noted  in  Augustinian 
schemes  at  Kirkburn  and  Melbourne,  while  the  Bridlington  tomb-slab  was  shipped  from 
Flanders,  and  Ottonian  manuscripts  were  cited  above  as  a source  for  the  posture  imposed 
on  the  bird  at  Liverton.  Figures  30  and  31  illustrate  eleventh-  or  twelfth-century  sculpture 
from  Milan  in  order  to  indicate  north  Italy  generally  as  the  area  supplying  several  more  of 
the  ideas  at  Liverton  and  Tutbury.  There  is  a comparable  disposition  of  sculpture  on  the 
architecture.  The  carving  in  the  atrium  or  entrance  courtyard  of  San  Ambrogio  includes  a 
series  of  capitals  with  animals  and  foliage;  there  are  figures  as  well  on  other  capitals  at  the 

66  The  monks’  living  quarters  were  to  the  north  of  the  nave.  The  west  facade  faces  onto  a steep  hill 
on  which  was  the  patron’s  castle;  in  the  bailey  there  was  a freestanding  chapel,  ‘a  plain  building  of 
nave  and  narrower  chancel.  The  W portal  had  one  order  of  colonettes’,  N.  Pevsner,  Staffordshire , 
(Harmondsworth,  1974),  p.  288. 

07  Dickinson,  Origins , pp.  40-1. 



Fig.  31  San  Ambrogio,  Milan:  quadruped  on  a capital  in  the  atrium 

entrance  to  the  church  and  in  the  nave.08  Arches  at  the  east  end  of  the  atrium  have  only 
patterns,  with  imposts  that  are  heavily  patterned;  large  slabs  which  are  not  structural  units 
have  been  let  into  the  walls  and  bear  sculpture.69  But  the  most  striking  resemblance  to 
Liverton  is  with  the  large  bird  that  appears  on  the  angle  of  several  capitals  in  the  nave  at  San 
Ambrogio  (Fig.  30,  compare  Fig.  12).  As  at  Melbourne  (Fig.  14,  bottom  right),  none  of  the 
birds  is  holding  a stone,  even  as  an  attribute,  but  the  interior  of  the  church  was  commonly 
conceived  as  ‘heaven’.70  A bird-headed  quadruped  with  narrow  wings  occurs  in  the  atrium 
(Fig.  31  ).71  Less  like  work  in  England,  but  still  suggestive,  are  the  sharply-pleated  leaves,  with 
their  doubling  and  matched  serrations  like  some  of  the  leaves  at  Tutbury:  the  strong  spirals 
however  do  not  occur  in  Milan.  In  Pavia,  leaves  are  very  like  the  general  type  seen  in 
Yorkshire  (Fig.  26),  but  they  are  arranged  with  twisted  rather  than  bound  stems.  The  leaf 
design  used  on  imposts  at  Liverton  and  Tutbury  is  a common  one  based  on  classical 
originals.  Altogether,  there  is  a strong  connection  with  Italian  forms. 

San  Ambrogio  was  the  first  of  five  churches  founded  around  Milan  in  the  late  fourth- 
century  by  Ambrose,  the  bishop  whose  preaching  so  impressed  Augustine.  It  was 
consecrated  in  the  year  of  Augustine’s  conversion,  so  the  site  would  have  been  of  interest  to 
the  canons.  The  story  of  the  crane  keeping  watch  and  holding  up  a stone  was  known  to  the 
classical  world,  for  example,  it  is  found  in  Pliny  and  carved  on  a memorial  stone  found  near 

68  H.  Decker,  Romanesque  Art  in  Italy  (London,  1958),  pi.  1.  Some  of  the  sculpture  is  reused,  but  it 
is  mostly  of  11th-  and  12th-  century  date. 

69  Compare  San  Michele,  Pavia,  illus.  in  Decker,  Romanesque  Art  in  Italy,  pi.  25.  San  Michele  has  the 
bird  on  the  angle,  also  a version  of  the  ‘green  man’  which  is  like  that  used  at  Melbourne. 

70  The  immediate  interest  is  in  the  physical  similarity  of  the  two  carvings,  but  the  motif  seems  to  have 
originated  in  Persian  textiles,  see  E.  Kitzinger,  ‘The  Horse  and  Lion  Tapestry  at  Dumbarton  Oaks’ 
in  Studies  in  Late  Antique,  Byzantine  and  Medieval  Western  Art , 1,  (London,  2002),  figs.  90-102, 
123;  basket-weave  or  woven  patterns  accompany  some  of  these  examples. 

71  The  example  has  wattles,  like  a creature  on  the  font  from  Cottam.  Another  wattled  creature  has 
been  noted  on  the  arcade  of  the  ‘baptistery’  in  the  cathedral  museum  at  Cividale.  The  single  fish  on 
the  impost  at  Easington,  fig.  21,  is  unusual  in  England  but  may  be  paralleled  on  doorjambs  at  the 
cathedral  of  Assisi  where  it  is  also  accompanied  by  star  patterns  (the  rosettes)  and  other  symbols  of 



Hadrian’s  Wall,72  while  in  the  Hexaemeron  of  St  Ambrose  there  is  a long  passage  on  the 
crane  as  a model  for  communal  life.73  The  usual  watchfulness  is  recounted,  but  this  is  only 
one  instance  of  the  cranes’  willing  service  of  one  another.  They  also  take  turns  and  change 
leader  when  flying  as  a flock.  Theirs  was  a beautiful  way  of  life,  Ambrose  says,  with  work  and 
honour  shared,  and  it  was  the  kind  of  life  mankind  had  led  until  ambition  and  the  lust  for 
power  destroyed  it.  As  has  been  pointed  out,  the  Aberdeen  bestiary  commends  similar 
virtues  among  the  ‘fratres’,  the  Augustinians.7'  No  doubt  the  canons  knew  the  Hexaemeron 
and,  as  a reforming  order,  would  have  been  keen  to  emulate  a primitive  common  life  recom- 
mended by  St  Ambrose. 

It  would  be  fascinating  to  know  exactly  how  all  this  came  together  to  build  the  chancel 
arch  at  Liverton,  and  it  is  still  a puzzle  as  to  what  allowed  this  simple  church  to  enjoy  such 
relatively  lavish  provision  compared  to  its  neighbours.  One  might  speculate  that  the  grant  of 
access  to  a local  source  of  ironstone  was  reciprocated  by  the  gift  of  sculpture.75  The  pastoral 
work  in  which  the  sculpture  no  doubt  involved  the  canons  seems  to  have  borne  fruit  in  one 
sense  at  least,  for  both  Liverton  and  Easington  churches  were  given  to  Guisborough  priory 
later  in  the  twelfth  century. 


I am  grateful  for  help  received  and  interest  reciprocated  at  all  the  churches  visited,  and  particu- 
larly to  Mr  Cockburn  and  Mr  Stevenson  at  Liverton.  I would  like  to  thank  Michael  Tisdall  for 
sending  me  the  article  mentioning  the  crane  on  the  Roman  memorial  from  Chesterholm,  and  for  an 
anonymous  translator  in  the  Minster  Library,  York,  who  worked  his/her  way  through  the  whole 
chapter  of  Ambrosius  on  the  Crane  to  enlighten  this  barbarian.  Photographs  are  by  the  author 
unless  specified,  but  the  print  used  for  Figure  30,  the  bird  at  San  Ambrogio,  was  made  by  John 
McElheran  from  a flash  photograph  having  very  little  tonal  differentiation;  he  provided  other 
improved  prints  also.  A few  weeks  later,  John  died  suddenly  on  holiday.  The  author  takes  this 
opportunity  to  acknowledge  his  important  contribution  to  this,  and  other,  papers. 

72  Pliny,  Historia  Naturalis,  X.xxiii;  J.  Kewley,  ‘Three  Altars  from  Chesterholm’,  Archaeol.  Aeliana , 
5th  series,  1,  p.  125-127. 

73  Ambrose,  Hexaemeron , V.xv  (Migne,  Pat.  Lat.  xiv,  col.  227). 

74  See  notes  26  and  50. 

75  Iron-working  by  Guisborough  priory  in  Glaisdale  is  discussed  in  B.  Waites,  Monasteries  and 
Landscape  in  North  East  Yorkshire:  the  medieval  colonisation  of  the  North  York  Moors  (Oakham, 
1997),  pp.  36-7. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 

14  5 


^Claire  Cross 

The  suppression  of m on  as  ticism  in  the  North  Riding  of  Yorkshire  seems  to  have  taken  the 
local  inhabitants  entirely  by  surprise.  Drawing  chiefly  upon  the  evidence  from  wills,  this 
article  investigates  the  impact  of  North  Riding  religious  houses  upon  regional  society  in  the 
earlier  part  of  the  reign  of  Henry  VIII,  considers  the  process  of  the  dissolution  and  traces 
the  subsequent  careers  of  some  of  the  former  monks,  friars  and  nuns. 

Described  at  the  time  as  ‘the  greatest  shire  of...  late  religious  houses  within  this  realm’, 
with  well  over  a thousand  men  and  women  in  religious  orders  in  the  1530s,  Yorkshire 
contained  about  a ninth  of  all  the  monks,  canons,  friars  and  nuns  in  the  whole  of  England. 
Within  the  county  the  North  Riding,  with  a total  of  28  abbeys,  priories,  nunneries  and 
friaries,  compared  with  23  for  the  West  Riding  and  18  for  the  East  Riding,  possessed  the 
greatest  number  of  monastic  communities.  All  the  houses  in  the  North  Riding,  as  in  the  rest 
of  Yorkshire,  dated  from  after  the  Norman  Conquest,  most  originating  in  the  late  eleventh 
or  twelfth  centuries  with  the  friars  making  their  appearance  a century  later.  This  pattern  of 
monasticism  survived  virtually  unchanged  until  the  reign  of  Henry  VIII.1 

Whitby  abbey,  founded  circa  1078,  was  the  only  house  in  the  North  Riding  belonging  to 
the  Benedictine  order,  the  dominant  form  of  monasticism  in  Western  Christendom  until 
about  1100.  The  first  half  of  the  twelfth  century  saw  the  creation  of  three  houses  of 
Augustinian  canons  at  Guisborough,  Newburgh  and  Marton.  Not  strictly  monks,  these 
canons  regular,  although  living  under  a rule,  served  parish  churches  appropriated  to  their 
priories.  The  Cistercians,  a much  more  severe  order  than  the  Benedictines,  reached  the  area 
in  1132,  settling  at  Rievaulx,  Byland  and  Jervaulx  in  quick  succession.  Between  1150  and 
1200  Grandimontine  monks,  a contemplative  order  devoted  to  extreme  poverty  and  severity, 
established  a very  small  prioiy  at  Grosmont,  Gilbertine  canons,  who  followed  the  Augustinian 
rule,  a house  at  Malton,  and  Premonstratensian  canons,  pledged  to  a stricter  observance 
than  the  canons  regular,  three  priories  at  Easby,  Coverham  and  Egglestone.  The  nine  North 
Riding  nunneries,  two  Benedictine  convents  at  Arden  and  Marrick,  six  Cistercian  convents 
at  Handale,  Keldholme,  Wykeham,  Rosedale,  Basedale  and  Ellerton,  and  a single  Augustinian 
convent  at  Moxby,  were  all  also  in  existence  before  1200.  Then  two  centuries  later  the 
Carthusians,  an  eremitical  order  which  met  together  solely  for  part  of  the  divine  office,  set 
up  their  priory  at  Mount  Grace  in  1398.2 

1 G.  W.  O.  Woodward,  The  Exemption  from  Suppression  of  Certain  Yorkshire  Priories’,  English 
Historical  Review,  LXXVI  (1961),  386,  quoting  The  National  Archives  (hereafter  TNA)  E 135/125 
f.  184;  C.  Cross  and  N.  Vickers,  eds.,  Monks,  Friars  and  Nuns  in  Sixteenth  Century  Yorkshire , 
Yorkshire  Archaeological  Society,  Record  Series  CL  (1995).  The  spelling  of  all  quotations  has  been 

2 J.  E.  Burton,  The  Monastic  Order  in  Yorkshire  1069-1215  (Cambridge,  1999),  pp.  xvii-xix. 



With  their  commitment  to  absolute  poverty  and  active  involvement  in  the  world  the  friars 
were  the  religious  innovators  of  the  thirteenth  century.  The  Franciscans,  the  first  to  penetrate 
the  Riding,  established  a convent  in  Scarborough  in  1239  and  another  in  Richmond  in 
1258.  The  Dominicans  settled  in  Scarborough  and  Yarm  in  1252  and  1266  respectively, 
while  the  Carmelites  had  priories  in  Scarborough  by  1319  and  in  Northallerton  by  1356. 
The  Austin  friars  never  succeeded  in  colonising  the  area.3 

With  the  exception  of  the  friars,  who  depended  upon  alms  giving  and  technically  owned 
no  property  at  all , some  of  the  monasteries  very  rapidly  became  major  landowners  in  the 
region.  On  the  Valor  Ecclesiasticus  assessments  of  1535,  Guisborough  priory  with  a clear 
annual  income  well  over  £600  was  by  some  way  the  wealthiest  house  in  the  North  Riding, 
and  the  fourth  richest  in  the  entire  county  behind  only  St  Mary’s  abbey,  York,  Fountains 
abbey  and  Selby  abbey.  Whitby  abbey  had  an  annual  revenue  of  almost  £450,  Newburgh 
priory  of  about  £367  and  Mount  Grace  priory  of  around  £323.  Below  this,  but  still  affluent, 
came  the  three  Cistercian  houses  of  Rievaulx  abbey  with  over  £287,  Byland  abbey  with 
£238  and  Jervaulx  with  £234  per  annum.  Malton  Gilbertine  priory  had  an  income  hovering 
around  the  £200  a year  mark.  With  £ 151  a year  Marton  priory  was  by  some  way  the  least  well 
endowed  Augustinian  house.  Of  the  three  Premonstratensian  houses,  Coverham  abbey  with 
£160  and  Easby  abbey  with  £111,  enjoyed  a similar  standard  of  living  to  Marton,  but 
Egglestone  must  always  have  struggled  with  revenues  of  no  more  than  £36.  Grosmont 
Grandimontine  priory  with  a derisoiy  £ 1 2 a year  brought  up  the  rear:  such  was  its  poverty 
that  the  laity  in  the  early  sixteenth  century  commonly  referred  to  its  canons  as  friars.4 

Most  of  the  nine  North  Riding  nunneries  were  also  very  poor.  The  least  indigent,  Marrick, 
possessed  an  income  of  almost  £50  and  Rosedale  of  nearly  £38,  but  Keldholme,  Moxby, 
Wykeham  and  Basedale  could  count  on  revenues  of  between  only  £20  and  £30,  while  the 
three  most  needy  priories,  Ellerton,  Handale  and  Arden,  somehow  survived  on  receipts  of 
between  £ 12  and  £ 15  a year.  (For  comparison,  Swine  in  the  East  Riding,  the  richest  nunnery 
in  the  county  apart  from  the  double  house  of  Watton,  had  an  annual  income  of  over  £80. )5 

Many  years  ago  Dom  David  Knowles  made  the  point  that  religious  houses  tended  to 
attract  their  monks  from  their  immediate  hinterland,  and  this  certainly  seems  to  have  been 
the  case  for  the  North  Riding.  On  entering  the  Cistercian  order  a novice  usually  changed  his 
surname  from  his  family  name  to  that  of  his  birth  place.  Quite  exceptionally  a Rievaulx 
document  of  1538,  which  lists  both  the  patronymic  and  toponymic  of  almost  every  member 
of  the  community -Thomas  Jackson  alias  Richmond,  Richard  Jenkinson  a//ayRipon,  William 
Stapleton  alias  Bedale,  and  so  on  - makes  it  possible  to  analyse  the  geographical  origins  of  the 
monks  with  some  precision.  All  without  exception  seem  to  have  come  from  the  North 
Riding.  Some  had  previously  lived  less  than  five  miles  from  the  abbey  in  Gilling,  Ampleforth, 
Yearsley  (a  township  of  Coxwold)  and  Helmsley.  Others  had  migrated  to  Rievaulx  from 
Thirsk,  Northallerton,  Pickering,  Farlington  and  Broughton  in  Appleton  le  Street  no  more 
than  ten  to  fifteen  miles  away,  yet  others  a little  further  from  Yarm,  Ripon,  Bedale,  Guisborough 

3-  The  Victoria  History  of  the  County  of  Yorkshire,  III,  ed.  W.  Page  (London,  1913),  pp.  270,  273-4, 
274-6,  277-9,  279-80,  281-2. 

4 Burton,  Monastic  Order  in  Yorkshire , pp.  xvii-xix;  Borthwick  Institute,  University  of  York  (hereafter 
BI)  Prob.  Reg.  9 ff.  251  r-v,  376r. 

5-  Burton,  Monastic  Order  in  Yorkshire , pp.  xvii-xix. 



and  Stainton.  The  most  distant  townships  from  which  Rievaulx  had  drawn  its  novices, 
Scarborough,  Whitby,  Richmond  and  Easby,  still  lay  within  a twenty-five  mile  radius  of  the 
abbey.  Other  houses  would  seem  to  have  attracted  their  members  from  similarly  quite  narrowly 
defined  localities.6 

The  social  status  of  the  families  which  provided  these  recruits  is  less  easy  to  determine. 
From  the  evidence  of  wills  made  in  the  last  two  decades  before  the  dissolution  most  North 
Riding  monks  appear  to  have  sprung  from  yeoman  or  reasonably  prosperous  bourgeois 
rather  than  from  noble  stock.  In  his  will  of  1527,  for  example,  John  Lawton,  a townsman  of 
Thirsk,  mentioned  his  son,  Robert,  then  a monk  of  Byland.  The  inhabitants  of  Malton 
appear  to  have  had  particularly  strong  ties  with  their  local  Gilbertine  house:  Robert  Walker 
of  Old  Malton,  Laurence  Richardson,  draper,  Agnes  Kellet,  widow,  and  William  Marshall  of 
New  Malton  all  had  sons  or  brothers  who  had  joined  the  priory.7 

Some  of  the  nuns,  on  the  other  hand,  could  claim  gentle  and  occasionally  noble  birth.  In 
1539  the  prioress  of  Wykeham,  Elizabeth  Nandyke,  herself  the  daughter  of  a local  gentry 
family,  numbered  Elizabeth  Percy,  a relation  of  Katherine,  countess  of  Northumberland, 
among  her  nuns,  while  one  of  her  kinswomen,  Isabel  Nandyke,  and  her  goddaughter, 
Katherine  Gayle,  had  also  entered  the  convent.  Marrick  priory  had  similarly  recruited  from 
gentry  families  with  the  prioress,  Christabel  Cowper,  aunt  to  Christopher  Thormanby  of 
Thormanby,  gentleman,  Marjory  Conyers,  the  daughter  of  Christopher  Conyers  and  sister 
of  Sir  Christopher  Conyers,  knight,  of  Sockburn  in  county  Durham,  Elizabeth  Singleton, 
probably  a Singleton  of  Melsonby,  and  Elizabeth  Robinson  the  daughter  of  Thomas  Robinson 
and  his  wife  Elizabeth,  tenants  of  the  priory.  Two  of  the  nuns  at  Handale,  Anne  Benson  and 
Isabel  Norman,  were  both  daughters  of  prosperous  local  families,  and  the  prioress,  Anne 
Lutton,  almost  certainly  derived  from  the  Yorkshire  gentry  family  of  the  same  name.  Sometime 
before  the  dissolution  Agnes  Aislaby,  daughter  of  Richard  Aislaby  of  Whitwell,  gentleman, 
had  joined  the  equally  impecunious  house  of  Ellerton  on  Swale.8 

Families  understandably  felt  particularly  close  to  the  communities  which  housed  their 
offspring,  and  did  not  hesitate  on  occasions  to  trade  upon  these  connections.  In  1522 
William  Christalowe  of  Coxwold  appointed  his  brother  Marmaduke,  a monk  of  Byland,  one 
of  the  supervisors  of  his  will  and  left  him  his  best  horse  and  a rosary  with  a tache  in  addition 
to  making  a general  bequest  of  3 s.  4d.  to  the  abbot  and  convent.  John  Leyng  of  Helmsley 
requested  his  son,  Dan  Richard,  a monk  of  Rievaulx,  to  execute  the  same  office,  while  John 
Crawe  of  Old  Malton  turned  to  his  brother,  Dan  William,  for  a similar  favour.9 

Other  North  Riding  families  cultivated  patronage  links  with  particular  houses.  When  he 
gave  the  prioress  and  convent  lOs.  to  pray  for  his  soul  in  1527  Sir  Ninian  Markenfeld  of 
Ripon  described  himself  as  the  ‘founder’  of  Arden,  established  nearly  four  centuries  earlier 
by  a minor  landholder,  Peter  de  Hoton.  Sir  Thomas  Strangeways  of  Osmotherley  and  James 

6-  D.  M.  Knowles,  The  Religious  Orders  in  England , III  (Cambridge,  1955),  p.  70;  Letters  and 
Papers  of  Henry  VIII,  XIV,  pt.  I,  no.  185  (hereafter  L P Hen.  VIII)-,  TNA,  E 315/245  f.  32v. 

7 BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 ff.  375v,  389v,  400r,  402v. 

H TNA,  LR  6/121/2  m.  51;  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I ff.  363v,  364v;  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  II  ff.  559v-560r, 
647 r;  Prob.  Reg.  13,  pt.  II  f.  702v;  Prob.  Reg.  15,  pt.  I f.  68r-v;  Testamenta  Eboracensia,  vol.  VI,  ed. 
J.  W.  Clay  Surtees  Society  CVI  (1902),  p.  256;  J.  H.  Tillotson,  Marrick  Priory:  A Nunnery  in  Late 
Medieval  Yorkshire,  Borthwick  Paper  75  (York,  1989),  p.  6 and  n.  39. 

9 BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 f.  250v;  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I ff.  16v,  69r. 



Strangeways,  esquire,  chose  to  be  buried  in  Mount  Grace  priory  in  1522  and  1532 
respectively.  William  Tocottes,  gentleman,  requested  a similar  privilege  from  Guisborough 
priory  in  1526.  In  1525  Alice  Chawfer,  widow,  made  provision  for  her  burial  in  Byland 
abbey,  where  her  husband  William  Chawfer  of  Kilburn  had  been  interred  four  years 

Other  affluent  testators  paid  North  Riding  monasteries  to  offer  prayers  for  their  souls.  In 
1521,  in  addition  to  arranging  for  special  commemorative  services  to  take  place  on  the 
anniversary  of  his  death  in  Whalley,  St  Mary’s,  York,  Fountains,  Sawley  and  Bolton,  Ambrose 
Pudsey,  gentleman,  of  Bolton  in  Bowland,  gave  Mount  Grace  £5  for  five  trentals  and  five 
obits.  John  Chapman,  public  notary  of  York,  in  1528  commissioned  a thousand  masses  to  be 
performed  for  his  soul  in  the  charterhouses  of  Mount  Grace,  Hull,  Beauvale  and  Coventry 
and  the  priories  of  Guisborough  and  Hexham.  Three  years  earlier  Ellen  Harman  of  Holy 
Trinity  parish  in  Hull  donated  a piece  of  plate  to  Guisborough  priory  to  pray  in  perpetuity 
for  her  father  and  mother,  Laurence  and  Agnes  Sowerby.11 

Other  lay  people  associated  themselves  with  religious  houses  in  less  expensive  ways. 
William  Cure,  alderman  of  York,  in  1522  left  the  prioress  and  convent  of  Moxby  40s.  to 
enter  his  name  and  that  of  his  wife  in  their  mortilege  book  (a  catalogue  of  the  dead  for  whom 
the  nuns  had  bound  themselves  to  pray).  In  1525  Thomas  Marcer  of  Kirkby  Moorside 
bestowed  6s.  8 d.  upon  the  prioress  of  Keldholme  to  be  assoiled  (absolved)  and  admitted  as 
a brother  in  the  chapter  house.  In  1526  Alan  Story,  butcher  of  Coxwold,  gave  the  abbot  and 
convent  of  Byland  20s.  for  the  community’s  prayers  and  to  be  made  a brother  and  his  wife  a 
sister  of  the  chapter.  William  Peckett,  husbandman  of  Marton,  bequeathed  6s.  8 d.  ‘to  be  a 
brother  of  the  chapter  of  the  house  of  Marton’  in  1529.  In  1533  Henry  Marton  of  Gargrave 
conferred  13s.  4 d.  upon  Mount  Grace  ‘to  be  prayed  for,  because  I am  brother  of  the  said 

Even  more  of  the  laity  sought  the  services  of  the  friars.  In  1520  Robert  Dickonson,  merchant 
of  York  and  Scarborough,  asked  that  his  body  might  be  interred  by  the  altar  where  the  priest 
sang  the  gospel  on  solemn  days  in  the  choir  of  the  White  Friars’  church  in  Scarborough. 
Although  the  vast  majority  of  testators  preferred  to  be  buried  in  their  parish  church,  many 
wished  the  friars  to  take  part  in  their  funerals.  For  a payment  of  20 d.  per  priory  William 
Watson,  shipwright  and  burgess  of  Scarborough,  requested  the  Dominicans,  Franciscans 
and  Carmelites  ‘to  go  before  me  to  the  church  and  to  sing  mass  and  dirige’.  Thomas  Lawson 
of  Reighton  set  aside  5 s.  for  the  friars  of  Scarborough  to  say  ‘the  blessed  and  holy  trental  of 
St  Gregory  within  every  one  of  their  houses’  immediately  after  his  death.  Thomas  Wray  of 
Bedaie  commissioned  prayers  for  his  soul  from  the  Franciscans  at  Richmond,  the  Carmelites 
at  Northallerton,  the  Dominicans  at  Yarm  and  the  Austins  at  York.  In  1536  Edmund  Kettlewell 
of  Ormesby  contracted  for  one  trental  of  masses  from  the  Yarm  friars  for  his  soul  and  his 
wife’s  and  his  children’s  souls,  a second  trental  from  the  Northallerton  friars  for  the  souls  of 
his  mother  and  father,  Matthew  and  Alice  Kettlewell,  and  a third  trental  from  the  York 

10  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 ff.  134v,  316v,  343v-344r,  407r-408r,  345r;  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I 203v-204r;  J.  E. 
Burton,  The  Yorkshire  Nunneries  in  the  Twelfth  and  Thirteenth  Centuries , Borthwick  Paper  56 
(York,  1979),  pp.  19,  42. 

11  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 ff.  214v-215r,  354v,;  Prob.  Reg.  10  f.  52v-56r. 

12-  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 ff.  264r,  321  v,  340r;  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I ff.  40v-41r,  60v. 



Austins  for  the  souls  of  his  brothers  John,  James,  William  and  Richard  and  his  sisters  Elizabeth 
and  Margaret.13 

Business  dealings  between  himself  and  the  abbey  seem  to  have  lain  behind  the  bequest  of 
20s.  of  Thomas  Pears  of  Bedale  in  1534  and  his  plea  ‘to  my  Lord  of  Coverham  and  his 
brethren  for  to  give  me  plenary  absolution  of  all  my  misreckonings,  if  any  such  have  been 
betwixt  them  and  me,  and  to  do  an  obit  with  placebo  and  dirige  after  my  departure  in  the 
health  of  my  soul  and  all  Christian  souls’.  Exactly  as  he  might  have  approached  a secular  lord, 
in  1530  William  Walker  of  Coxwold  besought  the  abbot  of  Byland  ‘to  be  good  lord  to  my  wife 
and  to  my  children  and  to  bear  them  in  their  right,  if  any  would  do  them  wrong’.  Simon 
Vicars,  alderman  of  York,  in  1534  left  the  abbot  of  Jervaulx  his  best  horse  or  mare  for  his 
mortuary,  and  the  community  his  scarlet  cloak  with  damask  lining  or  £7  in  cash,  on  condition 
that  his  elder  son,  Simon,  should  inherit  his  farm  at  East  Witton  and  his  younger  son, 
Thomas,  his  farmhold  at  Hutton  Hang.14 

Several  testators  expected  the  heads  of  religious  houses  to  undertake  the  wardship  of 
their  children.  In  1520 John  Symson  of  Helmsley  entrusted  his  son  Robert  and  his  portion 
to  Rievaulx  abbey,  and  his  son  Richard  and  his  portion  to  Byland  abbey.  John  Spendley  of 
Kirby  Misperton  in  1521  desired  the  abbot  of  Rievaulx  to  accept  one  of  his  sons  ‘and  to 
bring  him  up  out  of  his  part’.  In  1520  Richard  Dickson  of  Helmsley  gave  the  prioress  of 
Keldholme  his  daughter,  Joan,  and  her  inheritance  of  £10,  while  in  1524  William  Bulmer, 
esquire,  of  Brotton  near  Guisborough,  wished  James,  lord  prior  of  Guisborough,  to  have  the 
custody  of  the  goods  belonging  to  his  daughters  Eleanor  and  Anne  until  they  married  or 
their  friends  provided  other  succour  for  them  for  the  term  of  their  lives.15 

In  many  respects  these  monasteries  in  the  later  middle  ages  were  carrying  out  functions 
subsequently  performed  by  banks,  acting  as  executors,  receiving  deposits  on  trust,  on 
occasions  lending  money.  In  1526,  for  instance,  in  addition  to  leaving  the  abbot  ofjervaulx 
a silver  piece  ‘which  I had  of  him’,  Robert  Wardrop  of  Ripon  made  provision  for  the 
repayment  of  20  marks  he  had  borrowed  from  the  house.  All  the  evidence  suggests  that  in 
both  their  spiritual  and  temporal  aspects  these  communities  were  continuing  to  play  an 
important  part  in  secular  society  until  the  very  end,  and  that  the  revolutionary  political  and 
religious  changes  of  the  early  1530s  took  northern  clergy  and  laity  completely  by  surprise.16 

Having  failed  to  persuade  the  pope  to  dissolve  his  marriage  to  Katherine  of  Aragon,  Henry 
VIII  forced  the  convocations  of  the  clergy  of  the  provinces  of  Canterbury  and  York  to 
acknowledge  his  headship  over  the  English  church  in  1531.  In  May  1533  the  newly  appointed 
archbishop  of  Canterbury,  Thomas  Cranmer,  pronounced  the  king’s  marriage  null  and  void, 
freeing  him  at  last  to  wed  Anne  Boleyn.  The  Act  of  Succession  passed  in  the  spring  of  1534 
contained  a clause  that  required  all  Englishmen  to  recognise  the  validity  of  this  second 
marriage  and,  by  implication,  renounce  their  allegiance  to  Rome.  The  Treasons  Act  of  the 
following  autumn  made  questioning  of  the  royal  supremacy  punishable  by  death.17 

13,  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 f.  94v,  162v,  388v;  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I ff.  208v-209r;  Leeds  District  Archives 
(hereafter  LDA)  RD/PR/3  ff.  146v-147v. 

14-  LDA,  RD/RP/3  ff.  129r-v;  BI,  Prob  Reg.  9 f.  474v;  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I f.  118r. 

15-  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 ff.  145v,  201  r,  289v,  299v-300r. 

16-  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  9 f.  356v. 

17  G.  W.  O.  Woodward,  The  Dissolution  of  the  Monasteries  (London,  1966),  p.  50. 



Apart  from  the  London  Carthusians,  virtually  all  the  regular  and  secular  clergy  throughout 
England  swore  the  new  oath  of  allegiance  to  the  crown,  though  some  clerics  in  the  North 
Riding  could  barely  conceal  their  dismay  at  this  turn  of  events.  A monk  and  a lay  brother 
from  Mount  Grace  fled  to  Scotland  in  the  summer  of  1535  to  avoid  taking  the  oath,  and  the 
prior  and  the  rest  of  the  community  accepted  the  royal  supremacy  with  the  greatest  reluctance, 
and  only  after  a special  consultation  with  Archbishop  Lee.  Monks  in  other  communities 
entertained  similar  reservations  over  government  policy.  When  Sir  Francis  Bigod  on  an 
official  mission  to  enforce  conformity  arrived  at  Jervaulx  injuly,  George  Lazenby,  a Cistercian 
with  contacts  with  Mount  Grace,  interrupted  a sermon  in  the  abbey  church  to  assert  the 
primacy  of  the  pope.  Given  the  chance  to  recant,  Lazenby  refused  to  withdraw  his  treasonable 
words,  and  his  trial  and  condemnation  quickly  followed.  He  died  for  his  faith  at  York  on  6 
August  1535. 18 

These  instances  of  resistance  strengthened  the  crown’s  resolve  to  bring  the  monasteries 
under  the  direct  control  of  the  state.  In  the  autumn  of  1534  Parliament  had  granted  the  king 
the  first  year’s  revenues  on  a cleric’s  appointment  to  a benefice  together  with  a tenth  of  the 
income  from  the  living  thereafter.  Throughout  the  spring  and  summer  of  1535  royal 
commissioners  toured  the  nation  compiling  surveys  of  every  parish  church,  religious  house 
and  other  ecclesiastical  corporation  to  obtain  the  requisite  up-to-date  information  to  enforce 
the  act.  The  resulting  national  inventory,  known  as  the  Valor  Ecclesiasticus,  revealed  among 
much  else  the  extent  of  the  country  in  the  hands  of  the  religious.  The  government  then 
resolved  to  confiscate  monasteries  with  annual  revenues  of  under  £200  on  the  grounds  that 
such  houses  did  not  possess  the  economic  means  to  fulfil  their  religious  obligations.  To 
justify  this  somewhat  specious  argument  in  the  late  summer  of  1535  Cromwell  sent  out 
officials  to  trawl  for  examples  of  scandalous  behaviour  in  the  smaller  houses,  and  early  in 
1536  they  descended  upon  the  North  Riding.19 

Only  five  years  previously  Marton,  valued  at  just  over  £150  a year,  had  come  to  the 
archbishop’s  attention  for  serious  financial  mismanagement.  At  a visitation  the  canons  had 
accused  their  prior,  George  Davy,  of  squandering  the  house’s  revenues  upon  his  kin,  and  this 
had  led  to  Davy’s  resignation  and  replacement  with  Thomas  Judson.  The  problem,  however, 
had  clearly  not  gone  away,  the  commissioners  used  their  knowledge  of  the  previous 
irregularities  to  put  pressure  on  the  community,  and  on  9 February  1536,  before  Parliament 
had  even  passed  the  Act  authorising  the  dissolution  of  the  lesser  monasteries,  induced  the 
prior  and  his  canons  to  hand  Marton  over  to  the  crown.20 

Four  other  North  Riding  monasteries  fell  within  the  remit  of  the  1536  Act,  the  three 
Premonstratensian  priories  of  Coverham,  Easby  and  Egglestone,  and  the  tiny  Grandimontine 
priory  of  Grosmont.  For  the  time  being  one  house  of  each  order  was  allowed  to  continue,  so 
Grosmont  survived  together  with  Egglestone,  the  poorest  of  the  Premonstratensian  abbeys. 
Easby  capitulated  on  17  June  and  Coverham  on  14  August  1536.21 

,a  L P Hen.  VIII,  VIII,  nos.  963,  1011,  1025,  1038,  1069. 

19-  Woodward,  Dissolution , pp.  59-60;  Eighth  ' Report  of  the  Deputy  Keeper  of  the  Public  Records 
(London,  1847),  app.  II,  p.  30. 

20  BI,  Mon.  Misc.  9;  Yorkshire  Monasteries.  Suppression  Papers,  ed.  J.  W.  Clay,  Yorkshire 
Archaeological  Society,  Record  Series  XLVIII  (1912),  pp.  135-7. 

21-  Clay,  Suppression  Papers,  pp.  95-7,  99-102. 



The  North  Riding  nunneries  presented  a major  difficulty  since  none  had  an  income 
remotely  approaching  £200  a year.  At  this  stage  the  government  simply  dared  not  mount  an 
indiscriminate  attack  on  female  monasticism,  so  compromised  by  closing  just  over  half  the 
priories,  permitting  their  members  to  transfer  to  another  community  of  the  same  order. 
Moxby  surrendered  on  4 August,  Keldholme  the  following  day,  Rosedale  on  17  August, 
Ellerton  on  18  August  and  Arden  on  25  August  1536.22 

Little  more  than  a month  later  the  Pilgrimage  of  Grace  broke  out  in  Beverley,  and  very 
quickly  spread  across  the  whole  of  Yorkshire  and  beyond.  Influenced  by  the  Lincolnshire 
rebels,  the  East  Riding  insurgents  at  first  seem  largely  to  have  been  campaigning  against 
rumoured  increases  in  taxation,  but  as  soon  as  Robert  Aske  assumed  control  the  general 
welfare  of  the  church  received  a much  greater  priority.  Aske  cared  passionately  about  the 
preservation  of  monasticism,  and  under  his  leadership  the  commons  restored  the  dispossessed 
religious  to  Easby,  Coverham  and  Ellerton.  The  former  prior  of  Marton  and  prioress  of 
Arden  began  collecting  their  rents  once  more,  and  some  members  of  their  houses  may  also 
have  returned.  They  had  nothing  to  lose,  and  everything  to  gain  by  cooperating  with  the 

The  rising  placed  the  greater  monasteries  in  an  equivocal  position.  If  they  tried  to  withstand 
the  Pilgrims,  they  would  most  probably  retaliate  by  despoiling  their  houses;  if  they  joined 
with  them,  and  the  government  prevailed,  they  faced  almost  certain  dissolution.  When  the 
rebels  marched  uponjervaulx  in  October  1536,  in  a desperate  attempt  to  avoid  taking  sides, 
the  abbot,  Adam  Sedbergh,  fled  to  Witton  Fell,  but  to  no  avail.  The  rebels  brought  him  back 
to  his  abbey,  and  compelled  him  and  two  of  his  monks  to  accompany  the  host  to  Darlington.24 

Earlier  in  the  year  the  commissioners  had  deposed  the  prior  of  Guisborough,  James 
Cockerill,  on  a charge  of  maladministration,  replacing  him  with  a supporter  of  Thomas 
Cromwell.  They  had  similarly  coerced  the  abbot  of  Rievaulx,  Edward  Kirkby,  into  resigning, 
and  with  great  difficulty  persuaded  his  monks  to  elect  a successor.  The  former  abbot  of 
Fountains,  William  Thirsk,  who  had  suffered  a similar  indignity,  had  chosen  to  spend  his 
retirement  at  Jervaulx.  All  three  now  took  advantage  of  the  times  to  tiy  to  regain  their 

Although  the  Pilgrimage  proper  ended  on  the  grant  of  the  royal  pardon  in  December 
1536,  further  fighting  flared  up  in  the  East  Riding  early  in  1537  during  which  James  Cockerill 
publicly  expressed  his  approval  of  Sir  Francis  Bigod’s  tract  condemning  the  royal  supremacy, 
Adam  Sedbergh  sent  meat  and  drink  to  the  rebels  from  Jervaulx,  and  William  Thirsk  offered 
them  20  marks  to  restore  him  to  Fountains,  ‘saying  he  was  unjustly  put  out  by  the  visitors.’ 
Since  the  pardon  only  indemnified  rebels  against  offences  committed  between  October  and 
December  1536  on  the  failure  of  this  second  rising  the  king  could  exact  his  revenge.  The 

22-  TNA,  SC  6/Hen.  VIII/4641  m.  14v,  15r-v;  SC  6/Hen.  VIII/7476  m.  6r. 

2,1  S.  M.  Jack,  The  Last  Days  of  the  Smaller  Monasteries  \ Journal  of  Ecclesiastical  History,  XXI 
(1970),  122-3;  and  see  M.  L.  Bush,  The  Pilgrimage  of  Grace:  a study  in  the  rebel  armies  of  October 
7555(Manchester,  1996);  M.  L.  Bush  and  D.  Bowness,  The  Defeat  of  the  Pilgrimage  of  Grace:  a study 
of  the  post-pardon  revolts  of  December  1536  to  March  1537  and  their  effect  (Hull,  1999);  and  R.  W. 
Hoyle,  The  Pilgrimage  of  Grace  and  the  Politics  of  the  1530s  (Oxford,  2001). 

24,  L P Hen.  VIII , XII,  pt.  I,  nos.  369,  1012. 

2’  L P Hen.  VIII ’ VII,  no.  724;  X,  nos.  131,  271;  Yorkshire  Star  Chamber  Proceedings,  /,  ed.  W. 
Brown,  Yorkshire  Archaeological  Society,  Record  Series  XLI  (1909),  pp.  48-51. 



abbot  of  Jervaulx  and  the  former  heads  of  Rievaulx,  Fountains  and  Guisborough  were  tried 
for  treason  in  London  and  all  were  found  guilty.  Kirkby  escaped  the  imposition  of  the  death 
penalty,  but  Sedbergh,  Thirsk  and  Cockerill  were  executed  on  25  May  1537.  Extending  the 
law  of  attainder  to  embrace  not  merely  the  abbot  but  his  entire  community,  the  judges  made 
an  unprecedented  ruling  that  Jervaulx  and  all  its  possessions  should  revert  to  the  crown.26 

At  one  stage  it  seemed  as  if  the  government  might  gain  a second  North  Riding  monasteiy 
under  the  same  procedure  when  just  before  Christmas  1537  the  prior  of  Newburgh,  Richard 
Metcalf,  appeared  before  the  council  in  the  north  charged  with  having  spoken  abominable 
words  against  the  king  and  the  duke  of  Norfolk  the  previous  August.  Cuthbert  Tunstall,  the 
president  of  the  council,  believed  that  Metcalf,  for  all  his  protestations  of  innocence, 
harboured  ‘a  great  rooted  malice  against  the  king’,  and  had  him  imprisoned  in  Pontefract 
castle.  Only  Metcalf’s  fortuitous  death  in  the  spring  of  1538  before  he  could  be  brought  to 
trial  allowed  Newburgh  to  continue  unscathed.2' 

During  these  perilous  times  most  lay  people  wisely  kept  their  opinions  to  themselves, 
though  some,  like  the  widowed  Margaret  Astie  of  Richmond,  who  recorded  in  her  will  of  26 
March  1537  how  the  dissolution  of  Easby  had  frustrated  her  intention  of  founding  an  obit 
in  the  abbey  church,  clearly  resented  the  way  in  which  recent  developments  had  affected  the 
manner  in  which  they  might  provide  for  the  welfare  of  their  souls.  Well  aware  of  popular 
resentment,  the  crown  moved  more  cautiously  after  the  Pilgrimage  of  Grace,  and  made  no 
further  inroads  upon  the  North  Riding  monasteries  for  over  a year.  Then  instead  of  using  an 
act  of  Parliament  as  it  had  done  in  1536,  the  government  devised  a new  strategy  of ‘voluntary’ 
surrenders,  and  for  the  first  time  undertook  to  grant  allowances  not  only  to  the  head,  as  in 
the  past,  but  to  the  entire  monastic  community.28 

Byland  and  Rievaulx,  the  only  two  Cistercian  abbeys  left  in  the  Riding,  succumbed  to  the 
crown  in  the  late  autumn  of  1538.  Since  the  compensation  available  was  proportionate  to  a 
house’s  annual  income,  on  surrendering  Byland  on  30  November,  the  abbot,  John  Alanb ridge, 
secured  a handsome  pension  of  £50,  his  twenty-four  monks  pensions  of  between  £10  and 
£4  according  to  seniority.  (As  a means  for  comparison  in  the  early  sixteenth  century  £5  was 
considered  to  be  the  minimum  wage  for  a parish  priest.)29 

Formalities  completed  at  Byland,  the  officials  proceeded  to  Rievaulx,  which  Roland 
Blyton  and  his  community  of  twenty-three  monks  yielded  to  the  king  on  3 December,  the 
abbot  being  granted  a pension  of  100  marks,  members  of  the  community  pensions  of 
between  £6  135.  4 d.  and  £4.  Once  the  Christmas  festivities  had  ended,  on  22  January 
1539  they  moved  on  to  accept  the  submission  of  Newburgh,  awarding  the  prior,  William 
Lenewood,  and  his  seventeen  canons  a similar  range  of  pensions.30 

At  the  same  time  as  the  onslaught  on  the  first  of  the  great  Yorkshire  abbeys  the  axe  was 
also  falling  on  the  friaries.  Richard  Ingworth,  the  suffragan  bishop  of  Dover  and  a former 

26-  L P Hen.  VIII,  XII  pt.  I nos.  1012,  1035,  1087,  1285;  A.  G.  Dickens,  Lollards  and  Protestants  in  the 
Diocese  of  York  (London, 1959),  p.  93;  A.  E.  Emden,  Biographical  Register  of  the  University  of 
Oxford,  1501-1540  (Oxford,  1974),  p.  335;  G.  R.  Elton,  Star  Chamber  Stories,  (London, 1958),  pp. 
147-73;  Woodward,  Dissolution , pp.  98-100. 

2Z  L PHen.  VIII,  XII,  pt.  II  nos.  1181,  1231;  XIII,  pt.  I nos.  107,  743. 

28  LDA,  RD/PR/3  f.  194r-v. 

29  L PHen.  VIII,  XIV,  pt.  I no.  185. 

30  L PHen.  VIII,  XIV,  pt.  I,  nos.  123,  185;  TNA,  E 315/245  ff.  32v,  50v;  E 164/31  ff.  55-6. 



Dominican,  dissolved  the  priory  of  the  White  friars  at  Northallerton  on  20  December  1538 
and  the  Dominican  friary  at  Yarm  the  next  day,  before  suppressing  the  Richmond  Franciscans 
on  19  January  1539,  and  then,  after  a three  months  delay,  the  Scarborough  Franciscans, 
Carmelites  and  Dominicans  on  9 and  10  May.  Ingworth  did  not  always  bother  to  list  the 
members  of  a house,  since  as  mendicants  they  did  not  qualify  for  pensions,  but  in  these  three 
months  he  evicted  a minimum  of  seventy  friars  in  the  North  Riding  alone.  Almost  as  poor  as 
the  friars,  the  five  Grandimontines  surrendered  Grosmont  priory  in  August  1539.  They 
received  pensions  of  between  £4  and  £3  65.  8c/.31 

By  this  date  it  must  have  become  all  too  clear  from  which  direction  the  wind  was  blowing. 
When  he  made  his  will  on  2 January  1539,  George  Norman  of  Thirkleby  took  the  precaution 
of  providing  that  his  daughter,  Isabel,  a nun  of  Handale,  should  have  her  due  portion  of  his 
goods  if  her  house  went  down.  In  a similar  vein  on  18  February  Thomas  Benson  of  Leverton 
bequeathed  the  residue  of  his  estate  to  his  wife  and  children  including  Dame  Anne,  also  at 
the  time  a member  of  the  Handale  community.  These  religious  had  good  cause  to  be  grateful 
when  the  suppression  of  the  remaining  four  North  Riding  nunneries  began  later  in  the  year. 
Wykeham  capitulated  on  the  21  August,  Handale  on  23  August,  Basedale  on  24  August  and 
Marrick  on  15  September.  The  poverty  of  the  houses  allowed  the  commissioners  very  little 
room  for  manoeuvre:  while  they  awarded  the  four  prioresses  reasonably  adequate  pensions 
of  between  £6  135.  4 d.  and  £5,  they  could  give  their  communities,  which  contained  a total  of 
41  nuns,  only  token  annuities  of  between  £2  6s.  8 d.  and  £ l.32 

Fearing  possible  resistance,  the  government  had  made  the  strategic  decision  to  leave  the 
most  influential  monasteries  until  the  end.  In  the  event  the  last  five  houses  surrendered 
without  any  opposition,  Malton  on  1 1 December,  Whitby  on  14  December,  Mount  Grace  on 
18  December,  Guisborough  on  22  December  and  Egglestone  on  5 January  1540.  The  prior 
of  Malton  obtained  an  annuity  of  £40,  the  abbot  of  Whitby  an  annuity  of  100  marks 
(£66  1 3s.  4 d),  the  prior  of  Mount  Grace  an  annuity  of  £60  and  the  prior  of  Guisborough  an 
annuity  of  250  marks  (£  166  135.  4c/.),  with  those  for  their  communities  fluctuating  between 
£8  and  £4.  Only  at  Egglestone,  where  the  abbot  came  away  with  a relatively  modest  pension 
of  £13  65.  8 d.  and  most  of  the  community  with  a mere  405.,  were  the  canons  as  meanly 
rewarded  as  the  majority  of  the  North  Riding  nuns.33 

After  the  dissolution,  cushioned  by  their  generous  and  occasionally  lavish  pensions,  most 
of  the  former  North  Riding  abbots  and  priors  lived  out  the  remainder  of  their  lives  as 
country  gentlemen.  Henry  Davell,  the  last  abbot  of  Whitby,  died  at  Hackness,  previously  part 
of  the  abbey’s  possessions,  in  1552.  Roland  Blyton,  the  former  abbot  of  Rievaulx,  similarly 
retired  to  one  of  the  abbey’s  properties  at  Welburn  until  his  death  in  Mary’s  reign.  The 
former  abbot  of  Byland,  John  Alanbridge,  survived  even  longer  until  1564,  when  he  was 
residing  in  some  state  in  William  Calverley’s  house  in  Calverley.34 

11  L P Hen.  VIII,  XIV,  pt.  I nos.  482,  483;  XV,  p.  555;  Deputy  Keeper’s  Eight  Report,  app.  II,  pp. 
33,  38,  50. 

32-  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I ff.  363v,  364v;  L P Hen.  VIII , XV,  p.  547;  TNA,  E 315/234  ff.  llOr- 
112v;  Clay,  Suppression  Papers,  p.  169;  A Selection  of  Monastic  Rentals  and  Dissolution  Papers’ 
ed.  J.  S.  Purvis,  in  Miscellanea  III,  Yorkshire  Archaeological  Society,  Record  Series  LXXX 
(1931),  pp.  77,  79-81. 

33  LP  Hen.  VIII,  XIV,  pt.  II,  nos.  683,  721;  XV,  pp.  552,  553,  555. 

34  BI,  Chan.  AB  f.  37r;  Prob.  Reg.  17,  pt.  I ff.  310v-311r;  L P Hen.  VIII,  XV,  p.  557. 



Some  of  the  heads  of  houses  less  well  rewarded  went  on  to  accumulate  a number  of 
lucrative  benefices  in  the  secular  church.  Within  months  of  surrendering  Marton  in  1536 
the  unpensioned  Thomas  Judson  secured  the  rectories  of  Sheriff  Hutton  and  Sutton  on  the 
Forest,  both  previously  appropriated  to  his  priory,  before  moving  on  to  become  vicar  of 
Whenby  and  Barnaby  Dun  in  plurality.  Until  he  died  early  in  Elizabeth’s  reign  Thomas 
Shepperd,  the  last  abbot  of  Egglestone,  supplemented  his  relatively  small  pension  of 
£13  6s.  8 d.  with  the  living  of  Thorpe  Bassett  to  which  he  had  been  admitted  in  1536. 
Having  escaped  the  gallows  in  1537,  Edward  Kirkby  acquired  first  the  vicarage  of 
Newport  in  Essex,  then  the  rectory  of  Kirby  Misperton  which  he  held  in  combination  with 
St  Nicholas  Olave  in  London,  throughout  all  this  time  until  his  death  in  1551  continuing  to 
draw  the  pension  of  £44  to  which  he  was  entitled  as  the  ousted  abbot  of  Rievaulx.33 

A government  supporter  like  the  Augustinian  canon,  Robert  Pursglove,  took  advantage  of 
the  times  to  amass  even  more  glittering  prizes.  Imposed  upon  Guisborough  as  a replacement 
for  James  Cockerill  early  in  1536,  three  years  later  he  received  a substantial  pension  of  250 
marks  (£166  135.  4 d.)  on  the  suppression  of  his  house.  Having  been  appointed  suffragan 
bishop  of  Hull  while  still  prior,  he  subsequently  acquired  a prebend  in  York  Minster  worth 
£58  a year,  the  mastership  of  Jesus  College,  Rotherham,  which  brought  in  a further 
£ 13  6s.  8c/.,  the  rectory  of  his  home  parish  of  Tideswell  in  Derbyshire,  a second  prebend  in 
Southwell  Minster  and  the  archdeaconry  of  Nottingham.  The  restoration  of  Protestantism 
under  Elizabeth,  however,  after  the  reconciliation  of  the  nation  to  Rome  in  Mary’s  reign, 
proved  a bridge  too  far,  and  Pursglove  refused  the  oath  of  supremacy  in  1559.  Retiring  to 
Tideswell,  ‘very  wealthy  and  stiff  in  papistry’,  before  his  death  some  twenty  years  later  he 
repaid  his  debt  to  society  by  founding  a grammar  school  at  his  birthplace  and  a second 
grammar  school  and  almshouse  at  Guisborough.36 

The  rank  and  file  North  Riding  religious  fared  rather  less  well  on  their  expulsion  from  the 
cloister.  Since  individual  canons  had  customarily  served  their  house’s  appropriations  in 
person  throughout  the  middle  ages,  the  Gilbertines  and  Augustinians  started  with  a distinct 
advantage.  Richard  Carter,  canon  of  Malton,  for  example,  presented  by  the  priory  to  its 
Lincolnshire  vicarage  of  Ancaster  by  1535,  simply  stayed  on  in  his  parish  after  the  dissolution, 
as  did  his  fellow  canon,  Richard  Dobson,  who  had  been  admitted  to  the  living  of  Brompton 
in  1531  and  was  still  officiating  there  in  1546.  Henry  Fletcher,  a Guisborough  canon,  having 
similarly  acquired  his  priory’s  living  of  Lythe  in  1537,  continued  in  the  cure  until  1544.  A 
second  canon,  Oliver  Grayson,  who  secured  the  former  Guisborough  rectory  of  Easington 
in  1540,  remained  there  throughout  the  changes  of  the  reigns  of  Edward  VI,  Mary  and 
Elizabeth  until  his  death  in  1578.  Another  member  of  the  community,  John  Harrison, 
migrated  to  the  priory’s  living  of  East  Harlsey,  while  the  sub-prior,  John  Smythe,  appears  to 
have  held  Stainton,  yet  another  of  the  priory’s  appropriations,  until  his  death  in  1549.  Two 
former  Newburgh  canons,  Thomas  Barker  and  Richard  Lolly,  obtained  the  priory’s  vicarages 
of  Thirkleby  and  Thirsk  respectively,  while  three  others,  George  Fish,  William  Barker  and 

35-  L P Hen.  VIII , XIII,  pt.  I p.  574;  BI,  Abp.  Reg.  29  ff.  24v,  25v,  137v-140r;  Ernden,  Oxford  1501- 
1540 ' p.  335;  D.  S.  Chambers,  Faculty  Office  Registers,  1534-1549  (Oxford,  1966),  p.  52. 

36-  Emden,  Oxford  1501-40 \ pp.  467-8,  735;  The  Certificates  of  the  Commissioners  appointed  to 
survey  the  Chantries,  Guilds,  Hospitals  etc.  in  the  County  of  York.  Part  II,  ed.  W.  Page,  Surtees 
Society  XCII  (1895),  p.  381;  Calendar  of  Patent  Rolls,  Plizabeth , I,  pp.  289-90,  II,  p.  83;  Calendar 
State  Papers,  Domestic  Elizabeth  1601-3  with  Addenda,  p.  521. 



William  Gray,  ministered  in  succession  at  Kirkby  Moorside,  yet  another  of  the  appropriations 
which  had  previously  belonged  to  their  house. 3/ 

Whitby,  a Benedictine  foundation  with  a large  number  of  livings  at  its  disposal,  was  able  to 
make  a similar  provision  for  some  of  its  monks.  After  the  dissolution  Henry  Barker  occupied 
the  former  abbey  living  of  Hackness  until  at  least  1559,  his  fellow  monk,  John  Watson,  that 
of  Fylingdales  before  moving  on  to  the  more  valuable  vicarage  of  Levisham.  More  commonly, 
the  generality  of  dispossessed  North  Riding  monks  and  canons  had  to  content  themselves,  at 
least  at  first,  with  positions  as  stipendiary  or  chantry  priests,  but  with  pensions  to  boost 
their  wages  even  in  these  more  menial  posts  they  could  have  counted  on  a reasonably 
comfortable  existence.38 

A much  harsher  lot  awaited  the  friars  who  had  not  qualified  for  pensions.  Several  seem  to 
have  attempted  to  stay  in  the  vicinity  of  their  former  priories.  The  Richmond  Franciscan, 
William  Lofthouse,  served  for  a time  as  chaplain  to  St  John’s  guild  in  Richmond,  dying  in  the 
town  in  1560.  Until  1548  the  former  warden  of  the  Scarborough  Franciscans,  Richard  Chapman, 
possessed  a chantry  in  Scarborough  parish  church,  where  John  Boroby,  the  last  prior  of  the 
Carmelites,  was  also  acting  as  a curate.  With  more  livings  available  in  the  second  part  of  the 
sixteenth  century,  some  friars,  like  the  former  Scarborough  Dominican  prior,  John  Newton, 
vicar  of  Hutton  Buscel  in  1554,  eventually  attained  the  security  of  a parson’s  freehold.39 

By  the  end  of  the  reign  of  Edward  VI  certainly  six  and  perhaps  as  many  as  eight  former 
North  Riding  monks  had  married  - William  Stapleton  from  Rievaulx,  Thomas  Whitby  from 
Guisborough,  Thomas  Judson  from  Marton,  James  Barwick  and  Richard  Lolly  from 
Newburgh,  William  Harland  from  Easby,  and  possibly  Thomas  Hewett  from  Whitby  and 
Richard  Walker  from  Guisborough.  While  this  on  its  own  cannot  be  taken  as  a positive 
commitment  to  Protestantism,  it  suggests  at  the  very  least  that  they  had  accommodated 
themselves  to  the  Reformation  changes.40 

The  weight  of  evidence,  however,  points  to  the  conservatism  of  most  of  these  clergy,  many  of 
whom  looked  back  with  nostalgia  to  their  time  in  the  cloister.  At  his  death  little  more  than  a 
month  after  the  suppression  of  his  house,  John  Pynder  bestowed  12  d.  upon  ‘every  one  of  my 
brether  late  of  the  monastery  of  Revalles’  on  condition  that  ‘every  one  of  them  say  or  cause  to 
be  said  three  masses  for  the  health  of  my  soul.’  Thomas  Wardroper  bequeathed  12c/.  to  ‘every 
brother  of  Newburgh’  who  attended  his  funeral  in  1546,  while  his  fellow  canon,  William 
Johnson,  named  no  fewer  than  eight  of  his  former  colleagues  in  his  will  of  the  following  year.  In 
1549  Robert  Smith,  formerly  of  Rievaulx,  left  12 d.  ‘to  every  one  of  my  brether  being  of  live’, 
and  as  late  as  1555  another  former  monk  of  the  same  house,  Roger  Watson,  was  still  requesting 
the  prayers  of  ‘every  of  my  brethren  that  was  in  Ryval  the  day  of  our  suppression.’41 

47  Valor  Ecclesiasticus  ( 1810-34),  eds.  J.  Caley  and  J.  Hunter,  IV,  p.  106,  V,  p.  98;  BI,  Abp.  Reg.  29  f. 
28v,  Sede  Vac.  Reg.  5 A ff.  649r,  678v.;  Cav.  Bk  I ff.  28r,  61v;  HC  AB  8 f.  7 r;  Prob.  Reg.  13,  pt.  I ff. 
141  r,  517r;  Cross  and  Vickers,  Monks,  Friars  and  Nuns,  319-20. 

38  BI,  Chanc.  AB  6 f.  37r;  Exch.  AB  I f.  67v;  V 1575  Misc. 

39'  Wills  and  Inventories  of  the  Archdeaconry  of  Richmond,  ed.  J.  Raine,  Surtees  Society  II  (1835),  p. 
144;  Yorkshire  Chantry  Surveys,  II,  p.  513;  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  13,  pt.  I f.  119r;  Sede  Vac.  Reg.  5A  f.  68 7v. 

40  A.  G.  Dickens,  The  Marian  Reaction  in  the  diocese  of  York:  Part  I.  The  Clergy,  Borthwick  Paper 
11  (York,  1957),  pp.  24,  25,  27,  28,  30;  G.  Baskerville.  ‘Married  Clergy  and  the  Pensioned  Religious 
in  the  Diocese  of  Norwich  1555’,  English  Historical  Review,  XLVIII  (1933),  222. 

41  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  I f.  347v;  Prob.  Reg.  13,  pt.  I ff.  138v.,  312v;  Prob.  Reg.  13,  pt.  II  ff.  578v-579r; 
Prob.  Reg.  14  ff.  179v-180v. 



Having  gravitated  to  Newcastle  on  Tyne,  where  he  seems  to  have  earned  his  living  as  a 
stipendiary  priest,  in  1551  William  Bee,  ‘some  time  a professed  brother  of  the  monastery  of 
Mount  Grace’,  left  two  pairs  of  silver  spectacles  to  John  Wilson,  the  ‘father  of  Mount  Grace’, 
and  12 d.  ‘to  eveiy  one  of  my  professed  brethren  of  Mount  Grace.’  The  former  members  of 
the  house  who  survived  into  the  following  reign  responded  with  alacrity  to  Mary’s 
refoundation  of  the  charterhouse  of  Sheen.  The  prior,  John  Wilson,  four  other  of  his  monks, 
Robert  Fletcher,  Robert  Marshall,  Robert  Shipley  and  Leonard  Hall,  and  a converse,  John 
Sanderson,  all  joined  Sheen  abbey  in  1556,  Wilson,  Fletcher,  Marshall  and  Shipley  dying 
before  the  end  of  the  reign,  Saunderson  and  Hall  accompanying  the  community  into  exile  on 
Elizabeth's  accession.  Roger  Thompson,  ‘late  a superstitious  monk  of  Mount  Grace’,  who 
had  lost  the  vicarage  of  Ampleforth  on  his  refusal  to  swear  the  oath  of  supremacy  in  1559, 
also  subsequently  migrated  to  the  continent  to  become  first  vicar  and  afterwards  prior  of 
Sheen  Anglorum  until  his  death  in  October  1582. 42 

Like  so  many  of  the  monks,  North  Riding  nuns  looked  back  regretfully  to  their  old  religious 
life.  Prioress  of  Wykeham  for  more  than  a quarter  of  a centuiy  before  the  dissolution, 
Katherine  Nandyke  did  not  long  outlive  the  surrender  of  her  house.  Having  arranged  to  be 
buried  beside  her  parents  in  Kirkby  Moorside  church,  and  paid  £4  for  a priest  to  pray  for  a 
year  for  their  souls,  her  soul  and  all  her  good  friends’  souls,  in  her  will  of  1541  she  left  the 
church  an  honest  chalice,  a white  damask  vestment,  an  alb  and  a silk  hanging,  which  may 
well  have  come  from  the  priory.  In  addition  to  making  numerous  bequests  to  members  of  her 
natural  family,  and  appointing  her  nephew,  Christopher  Nandyke,  her  heir,  she  gave  Mistress 
Isabel  Percy,  one  of  her  former  nuns,  a ‘pounced  mislin  basin  and  one  five  shillings  of  gold’, 
another  former  nun,  Katherine  Gale,  a counter,  an  old  ark,  her  worst  feather  bed,  two  pairs 
of  linen  sheets,  a chair,  an  awmer  rosary,  two  little  kettles,  and  £3  65.  8 <£.,  and  a further  65. 8 d. 
a piece  to  ‘eight  of  my  sisters  that  was  professed  in  Wykeham  Abbey’.43 

The  circumstances  of  the  last  prioress  of  Ellerton  could  scarcely  have  been  more  different 
from  those  of  Katherine  Nandyke,  who  had  clearly  been  able  to  live  as  a gentlewoman  of 
some  consequence.  When  Joan  Harkey  died  in  Richmond  in  1554  her  entire  goods  consisted 
of  two  brass  pots  and  two  pans,  a frying  pan  and  a roasting  iron,  some  pewter  dishes,  an 
ewer  and  a few  other  implements,  two  little  chests  and  a coffer,  a chair,  three  cushions,  an 
‘evil’  feather  bed  and  some  bedding,  an  aumbry,  a kirtle,  a coat  and  some  linen,  valued  at 
a mere  £3  125.  4 d.  She,  nevertheless,  still  set  aside  12  c/.  a head  for  four  of  her  former  nuns, 
Dame  Alice  Thompson,  Dame  Cecily  Swale,  Dame  Agnes  Aislaby  and  Dame  Elizabeth 
Parker,  and  appointed  a fifth,  Dame  Margaret  Dowson,  as  her  executor.44 

A bequest  in  1542  of  £6  135.  4 <£.,  two  cows  with  calves,  two  silver  spoons  and  the  second 
bed  from  her  father,  Richard  Aislaby  of  Whitwell,  gentleman,  made  it  possible  for  Agnes 
Aislaby  to  adapt  to  life  in  the  secular  world  more  comfortably  than  her  former  prioress. 
Some  time  before  the  beginning  of  Mary’s  reign  she  then  went  on  to  marry  her  father’s 
executor,  Brian  Spofforth,  the  incumbent  of  Barton  in  Ryedale.  She  was  forcibly  divorced 

42  Wills  and  Inventories  of  the  Archdeaconry  of  Richmond,  pp.  134-6;  C.  B.  Rowntree,  Studies  in 
Carthusian  History  in  Later  Medieval  England’,  D.Phil  thesis,  University  of  York  (1981),  pp.  179, 
192,  506,  510,  521,  532,  533,  537;  J.  C.  H.  Aveling,  Northern  Catholics  (London, 1966),  p.  24. 

43-  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt.  II  ff.  559v-560r. 

44-  LDA,  RD/AP1/43/19. 



from  the  priest  on  the  restoration  of  Catholicism,  and  her  former  husband  seems  to  have 
died  soon  afterwards.  The  only  other  North  Riding  nun  definitely  known  to  have  married, 
Margaret  Bashfurth  of  Moxby,  claimed  to  have  acted  out  of  economic  necessity.  Having 
received  nothing  on  the  dissolution  of  her  house  she  remained  single  for  thirteen  years,  but 
then  married  Roger  Newstead,  a gressman  of  Thormanby.  Also  divorced  in  the  Marian 
period,  she  returned  to  her  husband  after  Elizabeth’s  accession.45 

A Marrick  nun,  Marjory  Conyers,  gentlewoman,  a resident  of  Pontefract  when  she  made 
her  will  in  1547,  like  Agnes  Aislaby  had  almost  certainly  been  subsidised  by  her  family  after 
her  convent  had  gone  down.  With  a pension  of  a only  66s.  8 d.  she  could  not  otherwise  have 
afforded  a servant  on  a wage  of  85.  a year  and  acquired  a goblet  with  a cover,  a silver  salt,  a 
stone  cup  with  a silver  cover  and  a veiy  considerable  amount  of  bedding.  A joint  bequest  in 
the  will  of  a former  Rievaulx  monk  suggests  that  another  Marrick  nun,  Anne  Ledeman,  may 
have  been  living  with  her  former  prioress,  Christabel  Cowper,  in  1555.  At  her  death  four 
years  later  in  addition  to  bedding  and  other  household  goods,  Anne  Ledeman  owned  four 
gowns,  four  kirtles  and  a cloak,  a little  silver  goblet,  five  silver  spoons,  two  silver  crucifixes 
and  two  rosaries,  valued  at  a total  of  almost  £ 1 1.46 

Despite  arrears  with  the  payment  of  pensions  in  the  mid  century,  Tudor  governments  had 
a commendable  record  of  honouring  their  obligations  towards  the  dispossessed  religious, 
some  of  whom  survived  for  a very  long  time  after  the  dissolution.  Nine  former  monks  and 
four  former  nuns  were  still  alive  in  1582.  In  a tithe  case  of  1586  Margaret  Newstead,  nee 
Bashford,  Elizabeth  Burnett  and  Joan  Hunton,  recalled  how  some  fifty  years  previously  they 
had  helped  ‘to  straw  and  cock  the  hay’  as  young  nuns  at  Moxby  priory.  By  the  end  of  the 
reign  they  had  all  died,  and  with  their  deaths  memories  of  the  religious  life  ebbed  slowly 
away.  Four  centuries  later  only  the  ruins  of  the  religious  houses  remain  to  bear  witness  to  the 
last  years  of  medieval  monasticism  in  the  North  Riding  of  Yorkshire.47 

45  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  11,  pt  II  f.  647r;  A.  G,  Dickens,  The  Marian  Reaction  in  the  Diocese  of  York:  Part 
II,  The  Laity,  Borthwick  Paper  12  (York,  1957),  pp.  16-19. 

46  BI,  Prob.  Reg.  13,  pt.  I ff.  335v-336r;  Prob.  Reg.  14  ff.  179v-180r;  LDA,  RD/AP1/55/40. 

47  TNA,  LR/122/9.;  BI,  CP  G 2216;  N.  Pevsner,  Yorkshire,  The  North  Riding  (London,  1966),  pp. 
94-101,  125-6,  142-6,  155-8,  177-8,  203-5,  232-3,  258-9,  291,  299-307,  388-93. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 



1705  - 1745* 

^Philip  Woodfine 

York  Castle  Gaol,  or  'Debtors'  Prison',  resembles  a handsome  Queen  Anne  mansion,  but 
this  examination  of  its  early  history'  offers  a corrective  to  optimistic  views  of  the  conditions 
experienced  by  debtor  prisoners  in  the  first  half  of  the  eighteenth  century  Overcrowding, 
hunger  and  disease  menaced  debtors  and  felons  alike  within  York  gaol.  The  gaol's  keepers 
inflicted  repeated  abuses:  excessive  fees,  overcharging  for  daily  necessities,  and  even  physical 
maltreatment.  A detailed  examination  of  the  death  of  debtor  William  Petyt,  at  the  hands  of 
gaoler  Thomas  Griffiths  in  1741,  reveals  the  extent  of  the  power  of  gaolers,  and  the  vulnerability 
of  debtors. 

The  popular  perception  of  eighteenth-century  prison  life  is  one  of  almost  unrelieved 
squalor  and  cruelty.  Non-specialist  accounts  draw  heavily  on  Tyburn  narratives,  the  lives  of 
celebrity  criminals  such  as  Jack  Sheppard  and  Dick  Turpin,  and  Hogarth’s  engravings  of  the 
rake  and  the  idle  apprentice.1  Among  professional  historians,  the  condemnations  of  Sidney 
and  Beatrice  Webb  in  the  early  twentieth  century  framed  a narrative,  still  influential,  in 
which,  before  the  investigations  of  John  Howard  and  the  reforming  ideas  of  Bentham, 
prison  life  was  bleak,  oppressive  and  corrupt.2  Holdsworth’s  view  that  eighteenth-century 
prisons  were  ‘perhaps  the  most  medieval  institutions  in  England’  still  broadly  prevails.3 
Historical  enquiry,  though  lively  in  recent  decades,  has  centred  not  on  this  earlier  period  but 
on  the  prison  reform  which  began  in  the  late  eighteenth  century.  Scholars  have  been  much 
influenced  by  Michel  Foucault’s  argument  that  the  bourgeois  state  in  the  throes  of 
industrialisation  developed  new  prisons  as  one  of  many  forms  of  surveillance  and  discipline 
of  the  poor.4  A weakness  of  this  work  is  that  it  focuses  unduly  on  reform  proponents  such  as 
Bentham,  and  on  novel  reformatories  such  as  Millbank,  rather  than  the  workings  of  the  great 

* This  article  was  awarded  the  Sheldon  Memorial  Essay  Prize,  2004.  Place  of  publication  is 
London,  unless  otherwise  stated. 

1 It  would  be  invidious  to  pick  out  a modern  summary.  Among  older  works,  an  almost  perfect 
encapsulation  of  this  approach  was  offered  by  Ted  R.  Jamison,  ‘Prison  Reform  in  the  Augustan 
Age’,  British  History  Illustrated,  III  (1976),  pp.  57-65. 

2 Sidney  & Beatrice  Webb,  English  Local  Government,  VI:  English  Prisons  under  Local  Government 
(London,  1963;  1st.  edn,  1922),  pp.  1-31. 

3 William  Holdsworth,  History  of  English  Law,  X (1966),  p.  181. 

4 Michel  Foucault,  Surveiller  et  punir;  naissance  de  la  prison  (Paris,  1975),  translated  by  Alan 
Sheridan  as  Discipline  and  Punish:  The  Birth  of  the  Prison  (1977);  Michael  Ignatieff,  A Just 
Measure  of  Pain:  the  Penitentiary  in  the  Industrial  Revolution,  1750  - 1850  (New  York,  1978); 
Gertrude  Himmelfarb,  ‘The  Haunted  House  of  Jeremy  Bentham’,  in  Ideas  in  History:  Essays 
Presented  to  Louis  Gottschalk  by  his  Former  Students , ed.  Richard  Herr  and  Harold  T.  Parker 
(Durham,  NC,  1965),  pp.  199-238;  P.  Linebaugh,  The  London  Hanged:  Crime  and  Civil  Society 
in  the  Eighteenth  Century  (London,  1991). 



majority  of  older  prisons.  In  a non-centralised  administrative  system  such  as  that  of  Britain, 
it  is  particularly  important  to  look  at  a range  of  localities  and  prisons,  rather  than  assume 
that  local  officials  actually  carried  out  national  policy  or  adopted  new  ideas. 

One  illuminating  essay  which  did  this  was  Joanna  Innes’s  study  of  the  ancient  prison  of 
King’s  Bench,  and  the  dynamics  of  its  daily  life  and  operation.5  She  concluded  that  the 
running  of  the  prison  was  a matter  of  achieving  a balance  between  the  Court  of  King’s  Bench 
itself,  the  prison  officers  responsible  for  the  security  of  the  gaol,  and  the  prisoners’  self- 
regulating college.  The  college  operated  according  to  rules,  traditions,  and  ideas  of  justice 
and  order  that  allowed  the  prisoners  to  regulate  and  even  punish  one  another,  but  could  as 
easily  justify  appeals,  protest  and  even  revolt.6 7  Further  detailed  archival  studies  of  prisoner 
participation  in  other  gaols,  and  in  earlier  periods,  would  be  of  great  value.  One  leading 
contribution  to  this  field  was  the  first  chapter  of  Margaret  De  Lacy’s  examination  of  the 
Lancashire  county  gaol  at  Lancaster/  Her  conclusions  may  be  described  as  broadly  optimistic, 
picking  out  the  strong  sense  of  community  responsibility  for  prisoners,  expressed  in 
allowances  and  charity  as  well  as  regular  contacts  with  those  inside  the  gaol.  She  argued  that 
abuses  by  gaolers  were  rare,  as  was  the  supposedly  endemic  ‘gaol  fever’,  and  pointed  out  that 
prisoners  had  a lively  sense  of  their  rights,  and  were  willing  to  petition  the  Justices  of  the 
Peace  for  redress.8  Lancaster  cannot  simply  be  accepted  as  representative,  though,  and 
without  closely  researched  studies  of  other  provincial  gaols  we  risk  generalising  from  too 
narrow  a base  of  evidence.  This  essay  is  not  the  substantial  work  that  is  needed,  but  offers  a 
tentative  sketch  of  prison  conditions  in  the  leading  county  town  in  the  north  at  this  time,  the 
city  of  York.  If  prison  life  was  relatively  good  in  the  gaol  at  Lancaster  - medieval  in  origin, 
though  regularly  repaired  and  rebuilt  - then  we  might  expect  that  the  purpose-built  new 
prison  in  York  would  show  the  best  face  of  eighteenth-century  incarceration. 

The  dignified  facade  of  the  debtors’  prison  in  the  castle  yard  of  York,  built  early  in  the 
reign  of  Queen  Anne,  was  one  of  the  leading  sights  of  the  city  in  the  first  half  of  the  eighteenth 
century,  and  beyond.  York  gaol  was  the  only  sizeable  prison  in  the  whole  county  of  Yorkshire, 
and  indeed  the  largest  provincial  gaol  in  the  country.9  Considered  from  an  architectural 
point  of  view,  the  prison  was  a handsome  addition  to  the  city,  the  first  new  public  building 
of  any  significance  in  what  became  an  extensive  Georgian  rebuilding  of  the  city.  It  was 
celebrated  in  1736,  in  the  first  major  historical  account  of  the  city,  as  a ‘most  magnificent 
structure’,  and  ‘A  building  so  noble  and  compleat  as  exceeds  all  others,  of  its  kind,  in  Britain:, 
perhaps  in  Europe .’10  Built  between  1701  and  1705,  the  gaol  was  a first  step  in  the  urban 

5 Joanna  Innes,  ‘The  King’s  Bench  Prison  in  the  later  Eighteenth  Century:  law,  authority  and  order 
in  a London  debtors’  prison’,  in  An  Ungovernable  People.  The  English  and  their  Law  in  the  Seventeenth 
and  Eighteenth  Centuries , ed.John  Brewer  and  John  Styles  (1980),  pp.  250-98. 

6 Ibid.,  pp.  286-98. 

7 Margaret  De  Lacy,  Prison  Reform  in  Lancashire,  1700-1850.  A Study  in  Local  Administration 
(Manchester,  for  the  Chetham  Society,  1986),  pp.  15-55. 

8 Ibid.,  pp.  52-55. 

9 Ibid.,  p.  59. 

10  Francis  Drake,  Eboracum:  or,  the  History  and  Antiquities  of  the  City  of  York,  from  its  Original 
to  the  Present  Times  (York,  1736),  p.  287. 



reshaping  of  York,  in  which  the  miscellaneous  vernacular  building  heritage  of  the  town  was 
restyled  by  classical  forms  and  in  accord  with  ideals  of  public  sociability.  Public  spaces  were 
to  be  made  orderly,  clean  and  appropriate  to  the  ‘polite  and  elegant’  social  mixing  for  which 
the  city  was  becoming  known.11  They  were  even,  for  the  sake  of  greater  safety  and  decorum, 
to  be  illuminated  at  night.  From  1724  the  corporation  provided  for  the  oil  lighting  of  the 
main  streets,  and  in  the  following  decades  the  city’s  constables  were  responsible  for  carrying 
out  a detailed  schedule  of  lamp  lighting  at  fixed  places  and  times.12  By  the  early  1730s, 
speculative  builders  were  busily  erecting  new  Georgian  streetscapes  such  as  those  in  the 
Bootham  and  Marygate  area,  to  provide  convenient  modern  houses  in  the  fashionable  classical 
style.  Public  buildings  in  the  new  taste  were  less  numerous,  but  an  important  civic  departure 
was  the  New  Walk  along  the  Ouse,  funded  in  the  early  1730s  by  the  corporation,  which  also 
built  the  magnificent  Mansion  House,  begun  in  1725  and  completed  by  1732. 13  In  the  same 
year,  during  the  1732  race  meeting,  the  Assembly  Rooms,  built  to  Lord  Burlington’s  innovative 
Palladian  design,  were  opened  to  great  applause  from  the  assembled  notables,  who  were 
entertained  with  a concert  featuring  the  leading  castrato  singer  Senesino.14 

Even  alongside  such  new  showcase  buildings,  the  baroque  Castle  Gaol,  in  its  venerable 
Norman  setting,  continued  to  be  one  of  the  leading  sights  of  York  for  visitors.  A standard 
itinerary  for  those  who  could  spend  only  a short  time  in  seeing  the  city  seems  to  have  been 
the  Minster,  the  Assembly  Rooms  and  the  prison.  One  such  visitor  in  1733  altogether  ignored 
the  new  Mansion  House  in  his  survey  of  the  city’s  beauties:  ‘The  Assembly  House,  the 
Cathedral,  and  the  Gaol  are  very  fair  buildings  and  well  calculated  to  receive  great  numbers 
of  the  indifferent,  the  good,  and  the  bad.’15  Admiration  of  the  architecture  of  the  gaol  went 
along  with  the  belief  that  it  furnished  model  conditions  for  its  inmates.  John  Wesley  noted  in 
his  diary  in  1759:  ‘I  visited  two  prisoners  in  the  castle,  which  is,  I suppose,  the  most 
commodious  prison  in  Europe.’16  Tobias  Smollett  passed  through  York  in  1768  and  in  a 
novel  three  years  later  he  depicted  leading  character  Matthew  Bramble  as  having  sampled 
the  town’s  tourist  highlights:  ‘...  we  stayed  only  one  day  to  visit  the  Castle,  the  Minster  and 

11  Ibid.,  p.  241. 

12  Linda  Haywood,  ‘The  Role  of  York’s  Parish  Constables  1713-1835’,  York  Historian , XV 
(1998),  32.  The  hours  of  lighting  and  number  of  lamps  were  carefully  specified  each  year:  e.g. 
orders  of  18  July  1740  and  16  July  1742,  York  City  Archives  [hereafter  YCA],  Court  Book,  F 15, 
fols.  222r,  283r. 

13  A valuable  discussion  of  these  developments  is  Peter  Borsay,  ‘Politeness  and  Elegance:  the 
Cultural  Re-Fashioning  of  Eighteenth-Century  York’,  in  Eighteenth-Century  York:  Culture,  Space 
and  Society,  ed.  Mark  Hallett  and  Jane  Rendall  (Borthwick  Text  and  Calendar  30,  York,  2003),  pp. 

14  Anne  Wentworth,  Countess  of  Strafford,  to  Selina,  Countess  of  Huntingdon,  25  August  1732, 
Huntington  Library,  Los  Angeles,  Hastings  Correspondence,  Box  69,  HA  13207. 

15  R.  Marsham  to  Francis  Naylor,  York,  23  September  1733:  Historical  Manuscripts  Commission, 
Fourteenth  Report,  Appendix,  Part  IX,  Manuscripts  of  Theodore  J.  Hare,  Esq.  (1895),  p.  235. 

16  W.  Reginald  Ward  & Richard  P.  Heitzenrater,  ed.,  The  Works  of  John  Wesley,  vol.  21 , Journals 
and  Diaries  4,  1755-65 (Nashville,  1992),  p.  187. 



the  Assembly-room:  Bramble’s  comments,  like  Wesley’s,  probably  reflected  a generally  held 
view  of  the  gaol: 

the  best,  in  all  respects,  I ever  saw,  at  home  or  abroad  - It  stands  in  a high  situation,  extremely 
well  ventilated;  and  has  a spacious  area  within  the  walls,  for  the  health  and  convenience  of  all 
the  prisoners  except  those  whom  it  is  necessary  to  secure  in  close  confinement  - Even  these  last 
have  all  the  comforts  that  the  nature  of  their  situation  can  admit.17 

Such  praise  for  the  gaol  at  York  undoubtedly  stemmed  in  part  from  a belief  that  it  contrasted 
favourably  with  the  abuses  and  cruelties  of  the  London  debtors’  prisons,  exposed  in  a much- 
publicised  enquiry  in  1729-30. 18  A London  gaoler’s  harsh  behaviour  had  led  to  a parliamentary 
enquiry,  under  pressure  from  the  philanthropist  James  Oglethorpe,  whose  friend  Robert 
Castell  had  died  of  smallpox  in  the  Fleet  prison.  Though  Oglethorpe  assembled  a group  of 
activists  highly  concerned  over  abuses,  their  main  achievement  was  to  generate  publicity  for 
the  evils  of  the  prison  system  rather  than  to  produce  reform.  Their  interim  reports  to 
Parliament  told  stories  of  prisoners  beaten,  tortured  with  tight  iron  shackles  or  thrust  into 
a strong  room,  their  health  both  physical  and  mental  impaired  by  bullying  and  cruelty.1^ 
These  investigations,  though,  produced  no  changes  in  the  prison  regime  as  a whole.  The 
committee  looked  only  at  the  three  main  London  prisons,  concentrating  on  the  corruption 
of  the  fee  system  and  the  misdeeds  of  individual  gaolers.  It  made  no  positive  suggestions  for 
prison  reform  in  its  first  two  parliamentary  sessions,  and  was  not  reconvened  for  a third.20 
The  Walpole  ministry  was  unwilling  to  arouse  City  opposition  by  relaxing  the  laws  on 
bankruptcy  and  taking  away  the  supposed  deterrent  effect  of  imprisonment  for  debt.  More 
immediately,  it  was  unsettled  by  the  popularity  of  the  Gaols  Committee  among  the  opposition 
and  even  the  independents  in  the  House,  and  it  was  politically  expedient  to  put  a stop  to  a 
committee  that  threatened  to  become  a popular  centre  of  reform  and  criticism.21  What 
Samuel  Wesley  greeted  as  the  ‘glorious  proceedings  of  the  committee’  looked  to  the  ministry 
like  a dangerously  prolonged  series  of  political  embarrassments.22 

For  the  citizens  of  York,  and  for  visiting  travellers,  the  main  lasting  effect  of  the  publicity 
surrounding  the  Gaols  Committee,  and  its  revelations  of  irons  and  torture,  may  have  been  a 

17  Tobias  Smollett,  The  Expedition  of  Humphrey  Clinker , 3 vols.,  2nd.  edn,  (1771),  II,  137. 

18  Reports  of  the  Inquiry  into  the  State  of  the  Prisons,  20  March  1728/9,  14  May  1729  and  24 
March  1729/30,  Commons Journals  [hereafter  CJ\,  XXI,  pp.  274-83,  376-80,  513.  For  the  frequent 
enquiries  into  London’s  gaols,  see  Roger  Lee  Brown,  A History  of  the  Fleet  Prison,  London. 
The  Anatomy  of  the  Fleet  (Lewiston,  1996),  passim. 

19  E.g.  CJ  XXI,  278-9. 

20  A recent  critical  evaluation  is  Alex  Pitofsky,  ‘The  Warden’s  Court  Martial:  James  Oglethorpe 
and  the  Politics  of  Eighteenth-Century  Prison  Reform’,  Eighteenth-Century  Life  XXIV  (2000), 

pp.  88-102. 

21  A thorough  analysis  of  the  political  context  of  the  enquiry  is  Andrew  A.  Hanham,  ‘Whig 
Opposition  to  Sir  Robert  Walpole  in  the  House  of  Commons,  1727-1734’,  (PhD  thesis,  University 
of  Leicester,  1992),  pp.  226-53. 

22  [Samuel  Wesley],  The  Prisons  Opend.  A Poem  Occasion'd  by  the  Late  Glorious  Proceedings 
of  the  Committee  Appointed  to  Enquire  into  the  State  of  the  Gaols  of  the  Kingdom  (1729). 



complacent  sense  that  the  county’s  own  gaol  was  very  different  to  the  squalid  prisons  of 
London.  In  truth,  however,  the  dignified  baroque  facade  of  the  gaol  gave  a false  air  of 
grandeur  and  rationality:  the  prisoners  within  the  gaol  certainly  did  not  enjoy  the  country 
house  conditions  suggested  by  its  exterior  and  floor  plan.23  Built  as  the  County  Gaol,  it  was 
intended  originally  to  house  those  accused  of  serious  crimes  until  the  next  bi-annual  Assizes 
were  held,  and  to  hold  convicted  felons  until  they  were  either  hanged  or  transported  to  the 
American  colonies.  Lesser  criminals  escaped  the  Castle,  and  might  instead  be  whipped  or 
pilloried,  perhaps  spending  two  or  three  months  in  the  house  of  correction.24  The  County 
Gaol  soon  became  commonly  known  as  the  Debtors’  Prison,  since  those  imprisoned  on  suit 
of  debt  actually  made  up  the  majority  of  the  prison’s  population.  Felons  and  transports 
continued  to  be  kept  in  the  cells  at  York,  but  the  more  numerous  and  the  longest-staying 
inmates  were  those  who  were  unfortunate  enough  to  owe  money.  Prisoners  for  debt,  unlike 
criminals,  might  spend  years  in  a gaol  where  they  still  had  to  keep  themselves  in  everyday 
necessities,  had  to  pay  substantial  fees  and  charges,  and  yet  had  few  or  no  opportunities  to 
earn  any  money.25  This  article  is  mainly  concerned  with  the  plight  of  these  longer-term 
prisoners.  The  felons  come  into  the  story  too,  though,  since  they  were  housed  in  the  same 
building  in  worse  and  more  crowded  rooms  than  the  debtors.  Their  proximity  was  part  of 
the  stigma  that  debtors  suffered,  and  the  number  and  conditions  of  the  felons  could  influence 
the  debtors’  comfort,  health  and  even  lives.  Crucially  for  the  wellbeing  of  debtors,  they  were 
as  much  subject  as  were  felons  to  a gaoler  who  was  not  only  powerful  but  also  in  effect  the 
manager  of  a franchise  which  had  to  return  a profit. 

Less  than  three  years  after  the  completion  of  this  commodious  and  handsome  prison 
building,  inmates  were  already  complaining  of  cruelty,  torture  and  extortion  by  the  gaoler, 
and  such  complaints  recurred  frequently  in  the  course  of  the  eighteenth  century.26  In 
November  1707,  for  instance,  one  debtor,  Thomas  Simpson,  swore  an  information  against 
Edward  Hinchliffe,  the  under-gaoler,  alleging  that  he  had  shackled  Simpson  with  heavy, 
unjointed  irons  in  which  he  ‘could  not  stand  or  so  much  as  turn  himself  without  help’. 
Hinchliffe  had  threatened  to  leave  his  prisoner  to  ‘lye  and  rott  upon  the  stone  floor  he  then 
laid  on’  unless  he  signed  a bond  confessing  a judgment  against  him  for  thirty  pounds.2'  Two 
years  later,  gaoler  E.  Chippindale  (.s/c)  was  the  subject  of  an  impassioned  petition  signed  by 
ten  prisoners.  The  terms  of  this  complaint  give  a good  idea  of  the  outlook  and  expectations 

23  The  best  discussion  of  the  design  and  building  of  the  prison  is  Stephanie  Adele  Leeman,  ‘Stone 
Walls  do  not  a Prison  Make:  the  Debtors’  Prison,  York’,  York  Historian  XI  (1994),  pp.  23-39.  For  a 
detailed  survey  of  the  prison  and  its  surroundings,  Royal  Commission  on  Historical  Monuments, 
An  Inventory  of  the  Historical  Monuments  in  the  City  of  York , II,  The  Defences  (1972),  pp.  65-6, 

24  The  York  Sheriffs  Court  Book  is  full  of  instances:  e.g.  YCA,  F15,  Court  Book  1728-44,  fol.  270v. 

25  De  Lacy,  Prison  Reform  in  Lancashire , pp.  50-1;  T.  P.  Cooper,  The  History  of  the  Castle  of 
York,  from  its  Foundation  to  the  Present  Day,  with  an  Account  of  the  Building  of  Clifford's  Tower 
(1911),  pp.  220-4. 

26  Petitions  of  January  1708  and  July  1709,  West  Yorkshire  Archive  Service  [hereafter  WYAS], 
Wakefield,  West  Riding  Quarter  Sessions,  QS  1/47/1,  QS  1/48/6. 

27  Petition  of  William  Wickham,  with  information  on  oath  from  Thomas  Sympson,  12  November 
1707,  WYAS,  Wakefield,  QS  1/47/1. 



of  the  debtors  who  signed  it.  They  were  in  essence  complaining  of  the  monopoly  commercial 
power  of  the  gaoler  over  them,  and  of  being  cut  off  from  the  town  and  from  traditional 
prison  privileges.28  Their  first  objection  was  that  he  would  not  allow  them  ‘to  have  their  Beer 
and  ale  with  other  necessaiys  forth  of  the  City  but  enforces  them  to  have  the  same  out  of  the 
Gaol  at  double  rates’.  Chippendale  also  took  an  unfair  cut  from  the  money  raised  by  those 
prisoners,  certified  by  their  parish  as  paupers,  who  were  permitted  to  beg  through  the  town. 
The  petition  alleged  that  Chippendale  deducted  from  the  cash  given  to  each  of  these  recipients 
a shilling  a week  for  himself  and  sixpence  for  the  key  turner,  Ward.  A further  complaint 
against  Ward  was  that  he  daily  showed  gentry  and  others  the  castle,  gaining  in  tips  more  than 
sixty  pounds  a year  that  could  and  should  have  been  distributed  to  the  poor  prisoners. 

The  brutalities  that  were  also  complained  of  in  this  petition  may  in  fact  have  been  largely 
imaginary,  as  was  alleged  in  a subsequent  petition  signed  by  a majority  of  the  inmates. 
Supported  by  the  preacher  to  the  prisoners,  Charles  Mace,  they  praised  the  charity  and 
honesty  of  the  gaoler,  and  stigmatised  the  original  petition  as  vexatious,  and  got  up  by  a ‘few 
ill  natured  & unquiet  People’.22  Behind  the  ‘vexatious’  petition,  though,  lay  a sense  of  invidious 
and  unfair  treatment,  and  a clear  resentment  of  the  commercial  monopoly  power  of  the 
gaoler.  The  more  usual  petition  complained  of  want  and  distress,  as  did  that  of  1722  from  the 
condemned  felons  waiting  to  be  transported.  Delays  in  arranging  their  transportation  meant 
that  seventy-six  prisoners  were  crowded  in  the  felons’  quarters  of  the  gaol  (roughly  four  to  a 
cell),  ‘and  more  comes  in  daily’.  Forsaken  by  their  friends,  they  appealed  to  have  the  usual 
county  allowance,  on  which  they  relied  for  purchasing  a basic  food  ration,  restored  to  them 
without  the  illegal  eight  shillings  a week  deduction  currently  being  made  by  the  gaoler,  Mr. 
Thompson.30  Debtors  were  not  unconcerned  in  this,  since  anything  that  worsened  the  health 
of  overcrowded  felons  might  set  off  an  episode  of  gaol  fever  (typhus),  of  which  all  prisoners 
lived  in  fear.  Injanuary  1724/5  the  debtors  and  felons  combined,  unusually,  to  petition  for 
immediate  relief.  With  87  prisoners  in  the  gaol  ‘on  shares’,  dependent  on  the  county  allowance 
of  money  and  bread,  ‘a  great  many  of  us  [are]  ready  to  starve  for  want  of  subsistence ...  so  that 
without  some  speedy  reliefe  we  must  inevitably  perish  for  want’.31  Another  petition  was 
presented  in  April  by  these  same  prisoners,  ‘in  Danger  of  being  starved  for  want  of  Bread. 
For  want  of  which  and  other  necessarys  there  is  now  at  this  time  a most  violent  distemper 
wch  rages  in  the  Goal.’32  As  always  when  such  petitions  were  received,  the  Justices  in 
Quarter  Sessions  appointed  two  of  their  number  to  investigate,  and  in  this  case  an  extra 
bread  allowance  was  given  to  the  prisoners. 

Three  years  later,  the  number  of  inmates  had  risen  to  over  140  and  gaol  fever  was  rife,  with 
many  deaths,  and  the  diseased  ‘in  that  miserable  stinking  condition  have  been  in  danger  of 

28  Petition  of  ‘several  the  poor  prisoners  for  debt  in  the  castle  of  York’  14  July  1709,  WYAS, 
Wakefield,  QS  1/48/6. 

29  Counter  petition  of  52  prisoners,  3 August  1709,  WYAS,  Wakefield,  QS  1/48/7. 

30  Petition  from  ‘the  poor  Distressed  and  Deplorable  Criminals  now  confined  in  the  Castle  of  York’, 
September  1722,  WYAS,  Wakefield,  QS  1/61/9. 

31  Humble  petition  of ‘the  debtors  and  felons  upon  shares  in  York  Castle’,  January  1724/5,  WYAS, 
Wakefield,  QS  1/64/2. 

32  Petition  of  ‘the  poor  prisoners  in  York  Castle  being  eighty  in  number’,  WYAS,  Wakefield,  QS  1/64/4. 



infecting  the  whole  Goal’.33  It  was  in  response  to  this  specific  crisis  and  petition  that  the 
Justices  of  the  three  Ridings  agreed  to  appoint  and  pay  an  apothecary  to  attend  upon  the 
prisoners,  to  prevent  the  spread  of  disease.  Overcrowding  was  a serious  danger,  not  only 
because  it  put  a strain  on  food  resources  and  made  inmates  vulnerable  to  gaol  fever,  but  also 
because  it  threatened  life  directly.  Oglethorpe’s  Gaols  Committee  had  painted  a vivid  picture 
of  rooms  in  the  Marshalsea  prison  so  crowded  that  in  summer  the  stench  was  intolerable  and 
prisoners  sometimes  died  of  suffocation.34  That  very  thing  happened,  with  less  publicity,  in 
the  supposedly  commodious  accommodation  of  York  gaol  in  late  October  1737,  when  nine 
felons  in  one  cell  died  of  suffocation  in  the  night.3"’  I'he  repeated  appeals  and  petitions  in  the 
records  of  the  county  Quarter  Sessions  seem  to  tell  us  that  infectious  disease  and  the  monopoly 
pricing  and  arbitrary  power  of  gaolers  were  the  worst  evils  of  prison  life.  They  also  reveal 
that  there  might  be  two  sides  to  the  complaints  of  prisoners.  Rarely,  though,  do  they  allow  us 
to  reconstruct  in  any  detail  the  events  that  lay  behind  the  complaints  of  prisoners.  The  rest 
of  this  article  will  be  given  over  to  the  examination  of  one  particular  incident  that  does  allow 
an  unusually  detailed  view  of  conditions  for  debtors  in  York  castle  gaol.  It  involved  the  death 
of  a debtor  at  the  hands  of  the  prison  officers,  and  has  left  traces  in  the  records  of  the  courts 
and  even  of  central  government. 

On  7 August  1741,  the  door  to  a disused  dungeon  called  the  ‘women’s  condemned  hole’ 
was  opened,  and  a bruised  and  beaten  man,  William  Petyt,  was  thrust  down  into  it  and  left  for 
eleven  days,  his  only  bedding  a thin  layer  of  straw  laid  on  damp  stones.  This  abuse  led  within 
three  weeks  to  his  death,  a fact  which  was  at  first  hushed  up  by  the  gaoler,  Thomas  Griffiths.36 
On  the  day  that  Petyt  died,  Griffiths  waited  some  hours  and  then  called  in  his  particular 
friend  Ward,  ‘an  Attorney  of  no  very  good  Character',  to  act  as  coroner.3  Ward  in  turn 
waited  some  time,  and  came  at  seven  in  the  evening,  when  all  the  prisoners  were  locked  away 
for  the  night.  Then  Ward  allowed  Griffiths  himself  to  nominate  a jury  ‘which  consisted  only 
of  such  poor  prisoners  as  he  had  an  influence  over’.38  Only  one  juror  actually  viewed  the 
body,  and  a verdict  of  natural  death  was  soon  brought  in.34  Deaths  of  this  kind  were  not 
unknown.  Among  the  abuses  that  the  Gaols  Committee  had  detected  was  a case  that  closely 
resembled  that  of  Petyt,  in  which  a mentally  ill  prisoner,  an  upholsterer  named  Edward  Arne, 
was  confined  for  six  weeks  in  unhealthy  conditions  and  so  died.  He  was  carried  into  a stable 
‘and  was  there  confined  (being  a Place  of  cold  Restraint)  till  he  died;  and  ...  he  was  in  a good 

33  Petition  of  lWm  Greene,  Michael  Waterhouse,  Richard  Clark  and  John  Hall  in  behalf  of  themselves 
& the  rest  of  the  poor  prisoners  in  his  Majties  Goal  the  Castle  of  York’,  April  1728,  WYAS,  Wakefield, 
QS  1/67/4.  The  East  Riding  Justices  were  also  petitioned:  East  Riding  of  Yorkshire  Archives  and 
Records  Service,  Beverley,  QSF/80/E/1. 

34  CJ,  XXI,  377-8. 

35  York  Gaol  deaths  and  births  entries,  Yorkshire  Archaeological  Society,  MS  489.  The  unfortunate 
nine  were  ‘Buried  behind  ye  Castle’. 

36  Petyt  was  buried  in  St.  Margaret’s  churchyard  on  28  August  1741;  ibid. 

37  Richard  Witton  to  the  Duke  of  Newcastle,  2 November  1741,  British  Library,  Additional  MSS 
[hereafter  BL,  Add.  MSS],  32698,  fob  251 v. 

38  Ibid. 

Ibid.,  fob  252r. 




state  of  Health  before  he  was  confined  to  that  Room’.40  As  a result  of  the  enquiry,  the  Warden 
of  the  Fleet  prison,  John  Huggins,  was  charged  with  Arne’s  murder  but,  despite  the  national 
attention  given  to  the  trial  and  the  height  of  feeling  in  London,  he  was  acquitted.41  It  was 
unlikely  that  the  York  gaoler  would  be  successfully  convicted  of  a similar  offence.  However, 
other  debtors  housed  in  the  gaol,  already  angry  and  resentful  about  their  treatment  and 
conditions,  were  not  prepared  to  let  the  matter  lie.  They  gave  their  own  evidence  about  what 
had  happened,  and  pressed  first  a county  Member  of  Parliament  and  then  a local  magistrate 
to  investigate  Petyt’s  death  and  punish  the  gaoler. 

York’s  gaol  was  not  controlled,  like  its  larger  London  counterparts,  by  a court  such  as 
King’s  Bench,  which  laid  down  rules  for  the  conduct  of  prisons  and  intervened  in  disputes. 
If  prisoners  at  York  wished  to  complain  against  their  treatment  at  the  hands  of  the  gaoler, 
they  had  a less  clearly  defined  appeal  to  the  county  of  Yorkshire,  which  was  responsible, 
through  the  High  Sheriff,  for  the  prison.  In  the  Petyt  case,  the  prisoners  first  called  on  one  of 
the  county’s  two  Members  of  Parliament,  Sir  Miles  Stapylton.  When  he  failed  to  act,  they 
appealed  to  the  unpaid  gentry  who  acted  as  Justices  of  the  Peace  for  the  West  Riding,  from 
which  Petyt  came.  The  Justices,  assembled  in  their  Quarter  Sessions,  had  jurisdiction  over 
the  treatment  of  a prisoner  who  had  originally  been  committed  by  them  to  York  gaol,  and 
were  duty  bound  to  enquire  into  the  circumstances  of  Petyt’s  death.  Two  of  these  gentry 
Justices,  Richard  Witton  and  Richard  Dawson,  seem  to  have  pursued  their  investigations  in 
a zealous  and  concerned  way.  They  were  energetic  and  prompt  in  travelling,  hearing  and 
recording  testimony,  and  writing  (at  some  cost)  to  the  responsible  minister,  Secretary  of 
State  the  Duke  of  Newcastle.  As  the  leading  Justice  concerned,  Richard  Witton  of  Lupset, 
Wakefield,  found  out,  an  unpaid  magistrate  who  wanted  to  send  information  to  London  as 
quickly  as  possible,  by  a relay  of  post  boys,  had  to  pay  for  the  costly  ‘expresses’  out  of  his  own 
pocket.42  Witton  suggested  that  the  King  should  take  on  the  cost  of  prosecuting  Griffiths, 
since  all  the  informants  were  ‘poor  prisoners  for  small  Debts  all  of  them  together  not  able  to 
raise  40s.  towards  the  Charge  of  a Prosecution’,  but  he  was  met  with  a firm  refusal.43  The 
Attorney  General,  Sir  Dudley  Ryder,  gave  his  opinion  to  the  Secretary  of  State  that  unless 
the  case  was  manifestly  one  of  murder,  it  should  remain  a matter  of  private  prosecution.  If 
the  debtors  failed  to  find  the  money,  nonetheless  it  could  be  raised  by  someone  in  York.  It 
could  not,  said  Ryder,  ‘be  presumed  in  so  great  a City  there  can  be  wanting  a Friend  to  supply 
any  such  Expences  as  those’.44 

The  high  costs  so  often  involved  in  securing  justice  had  been  the  subject  of  protest  in 
Yorkshire  in  the  recent  past,  and  had  led  to  a popular  clamour  against  abuses  in  the  legal 
profession.  Just  ten  years  earlier,  York  had  been  the  centre  of  an  agitation,  led  by  Sir  George 
Savile,  to  remove  a particular  obstacle  to  cheap  and  accessible  justice,  the  use  of  Latin  in  the 

40  CJ,  XXI,  275. 

41  Brown,  Fleet  Prison , pp.  70-3. 

42  Witton  to  Newcastle,  23  November  1741,  BL,  Add.  MSS,  32698,  fol.  364r. 

43  Witton  to  Newcastle,  2 November  1741,  ibid '.,  fol.  253v. 

44  Dudley  Ryder  to  Newcastle,  3 November  1741,  Public  Record  Office,  State  Papers  Domestic,  SP 
36/57,  fol.  60r. 



courts.45  Memories  of  this  campaign  must  have  contributed  to  make  the  Duke  of  Newcastle 
reluctant,  despite  Witton’s  urging,  to  stir  up  the  already  sensitive  issue  of  prison  conditions, 
especially  at  a time  of  political  crisis,  which  this  was.  The  autumn  of  1741,  when  the 
investigation  into  Petyt’s  death  was  launched,  was  a dangerous  time  for  the  long-established 
Whig  ministry  of  Sir  Robert  Walpole  which  was  now  fighting  for  survival.  Embroiled  in  a 
war  with  Spain  that  was  going  badly,  the  ministry  faced  unprecedented  attacks  from  a 
combined  opposition  of  Tories  and  dissident  Whigs,  who  sensed  that  the  fall  of  Walpole,  so 
long  campaigned  for,  might  now  finally  be  near.46  The  elections  held  in  May  that  year  had 
resulted  in  an  unsustainably  narrow  majority  for  Walpole,  who  was  finally  to  be  compelled  to 
resign  in  February  1742.4/  With  every  single  seat  now  important  to  the  embattled  ministry,  a 
by-election  in  Yorkshire  was  under  way  when  Witton  began  his  agitation  for  justice  against 
the  keeper  of  the  county’s  gaol  in  York  castle.  The  votes  would  be  cast  in  the  castle  yard,  in 
front  of  the  prison  itself,  where  the  hustings  always  stood. 

The  recent  electoral  contests  of  May  had  been  fierce  in  Yorkshire,  not  least  in  York,  which 
was  controlled  by  a strongly  partisan  Tory  council.  With  the  elections  barely  over,  a by- 
election  contest  between  the  newly  elected  York  Tory  Member,  George  Fox  and  the  Whig, 
Cholmley  Turner,  set  party  and  personal  rivalries  in  motion  once  more  just  as  the  enquiry 
into  Petyt’s  death  began.48  Tories  and  opposition  Whigs  joined  in  a non-party  ‘Patriot’ 
alliance,  attacking  the  ministry  with  great  virulence.  Even  more  disturbing  to  the  Court 
Whigs  was  that  parts  of  Yorkshire  showed  Jacobite  sentiments  of  alienation  from  the  entire 
Hanoverian  regime.49  One  York  man,  Joseph  Harrison,  may  have  been  an  isolated  case,  and 
was  certainly  a drunken  one,  when  he  shouted  in  the  street:  ‘God  damn  King  George,  Damn 
the  Parliament ...  Damn  King  George  he  has  no  right  to  the  Crown’.50  There  were  certainly 
grounds  for  the  ministry’s  perception  of  York,  and  indeed  Yorkshire,  as  a disaffected  place 
in  which  issues  such  as  prison  conditions  could  not  safely  be  agitated.  Lord  Irwin  urged  the 

45  Despite  the  opposition  of  the  entire  legal  profession,  it  was  Savile,  as  an  MP  for  the  county  of 
Yorkshire,  who  carried  through  Parliament  a radical  Act  ordering  that  all  proceedings  of  justice  had 
to  be  in  English,  which  from  1733  they  were.  Hanham,  ‘Whig  Opposition’,  pp.  257-75. 

46  Philip  Woodfine,  Britannia’s  Glories.  The  Walpole  Ministry  and  the  1739  War  with  Spain 
(Woodbridge,  1998),  pp.  210-39. 

47  Jeremy  Black,  Walpole  in  Power  (Stroud,  2001),  pp.  167-73. 

48  And  not  only  among  the  elite.  One  unfortunate  government  supporter  drank  the  health  of 
Cholmley  Turner  in  a Bradford  inn  on  Christmas  Eve  1741,  and  was  badly  beaten  up  for  his 
pains.  Deposition  of  Robert  Thorburn,  30  January  1741/2,  TNA  (PRO),  Records  of  King’s 
Bench,  KB  1/7,  affidavit  bundles,  Hilary  15  Geo  II,  unfoliated. 

49  A stimulating  discussion  of  the  Tory  mindset  is  Gabriel  Glickman,  ‘The  Career  of  Sir  John  Hynde 
Cotton,  1688-1752’,  Historical Journal XLVI,  4 (December  2003),  pp.  817-42.  A wider  context  can 
be  found  in  Christine  Gerrard,  The  Patriot  Opposition  to  Walpole.  Politics,  Poetry,  and  National 
Myth,  1 725- 1 742 (Oxford,  1994)  and  Paul  Kleber  M o n o d ,Jacobitism  and  the  English  People,  1688- 
1788  (Cambridge,  1989). 

50  Informations  of  Joseph  Hewitt,  Robert  Watson  and  John  Matthews,  sworn  before  Richard 
Lawson,  Mayor,  TNA  (PRO),  Assize  Records  N & NE  Circuits,  ASSI  45  22/2,  Criminal 
Depositions  and  Case  Papers,  1742,  fob  65.;  TNA  (PRO),  ASSI  44/57,  Indictment  Files,  1742, 
unfoliated:  found  ‘a  true  bill’. 



Duke  of  Newcastle  to  encourage  government  supporters  in  the  North  Riding,  ‘a  Part  of  ye 
County,  where  most  of  ye  Gentlemen,  I believe  I may  say  all,  are  professed  Jacobites...’.51  The 
embattled  ministers,  casting  about  for  every  vote  that  they  could  bring  to  the  by-election 
contest,  were  not  likely  to  want  to  revive  in  York  the  spirit  of  the  Gaols  Committee.52 

WEen  the  Petyt  case  first  came  to  the  notice  of  the  gentry  of  the  county,  therefore,  it  was  at 
a time  of  heightened  political  tension.  Given  ministerial  fears  of  the  potential  for  opposition 
in  such  issues,  it  is  all  the  more  creditable  that  the  Justices  who  took  up  Petyt’s  politically 
inopportune  cause  were  active  pro-government  Whigs.  The  leading  proponent  of  the  case 
against  gaoler  Griffiths  was  Richard  Witton,  then  active  in  the  by-election  campaign.53  Though 
Witton  had  married  into  the  Tory  family  of  Sir  William  Milner  of  Nun  Appleton,  his  own 
sentiments  were  staunchly  in  favour  of  Walpole  and  King  George,  as  can  be  seen  in  an 
important  surviving  speech.54  On  the  8 October  1741  Witton  was  elected  chairman  of  the 
West  Riding  Quarter  Sessions,  and  just  a week  later  he  used  his  public  platform  at  the 
Barnsley  sitting  of  Quarter  Sessions  to  denounce  ‘the  mad  and  unruly  Passions  of  the  People 
of  this  Nation  ...  overheated  by  factious  and  wicked  Leaders,  (pretending  always  the  publick 
Good  but  in  Reality  intending  only  their  own  private  View  and  Interests)’.55  Witton’s  interest 
in  the  case  of  Petyt,  and  the  condition  of  York  gaol,  stemmed  not  from  partisan  politics  but 
from  his  position  as  a senior  magistrate.  West  Riding  Justices  of  the  Peace  retained  a 
responsibility  for  their  own  convicts  confined  in  the  castle  at  York,  and  Petyt  was  a West 
Riding  weaver.  As  chairman  of  the  Sessions,  and  a man  proud  of  his  early  training  and 
practice  at  the  Bar,  Richard  Witton  was  driven  to  pursue  the  interests  of  justice,  even  if  at 
personal  and  perhaps  political  cost.5b 

Evidence  of  dissatisfaction  among  the  prisoners  about  their  treatment  in  York  castle  had 
already  reached  Witton  by  late  September,  about  a month  after  the  death  of  Petyt.  George 
Keith,  a prisoner,  swore  an  information  before  Witton,  complaining  of  the  behaviour  of  the 
apothecary  appointed  to  attend  the  sick  prisoners  in  York  gaol  from  the  West  and  North 
Ridings.  Keith  alleged  that  Mr.  Dodsworth  4is  Guilty  of  a great  Neglect  in  his  Duty  and  has 
refused  to  come  to  such  prisoners  when  he  has  been  sent  for  whereby  many  prisoners  have 
suffered  greatly’.  The  East  Riding  appointee,  Mr.  Boreham,  was  no  better  and  ‘hath  Neglected 
to  Visit  his  Patients  for  Five  Days  together’.5'  Soon  afterwards,  Witton  was  approached  with 

51  Henry  Ingram,  Viscount  Irwin,  to  Newcastle,  Temple  Newsam,  16  November  1741,  BL,  Add. 
MSS,  32698,  fol.  325r. 

52  E.g.  J.  Clay  to  Peter  Forbes,  Nottingham,  28  October  1741,  ibid.,  fol.  225r. 

53  List  of  attenders  at  a nomination  meeting  at  the  George  Inn,  29  August  1741,  BL,  Add.  MSS, 
32697,  fol.  522r. 

54  A Charge  to  the  Grand-Jury  at  the  Quarter-Sessions  Held  at  Barnsley  in  Yorkshire,  the  Fifteenth 
Day  of  October,  1741 , by  Richard  Witton,  of  Lupset,  Esq.  (York,  1741),  reprinted  in  Georges  Lamoine, 
ed.,  Charges  to  the  Grand Jury  1689-1803 , Royal  Historical  Society,  Camden  Fourth  Series,  XLIII 
(1992),  pp.  319-24. 

55  WYAS,  Wakefield,  QS  Rolls  box  139,  2:  Lamoine,  ed,  Charges  to  the  Grand-Jury,  p.  319. 

56  Lamoine,  ed,  Charges  to  the  Grand-Jury,  pp.  321-2. 

57  Information  of  George  Keith  sworn  before  Witton,  24  Sepember  1741,  WYAS,  Wakefield,  QS 
Rolls  box  139,  1. 



the  first  notice  of  the  Petyt  case  by  Richard  Dawson,  an  active  magistrate  at  York  and  fellow 
government  Whig.  Dawson  sent  him  copies  of  informations  gi  ven  by  several  of  Petyt’s  fellow 
prisoners.  They  had  drawn  up  and  signed  a narrative  of  Petyt’s  punishment  and  death,  and 
sent  it  to  the  Tory  MP  for  the  county,  Sir  Miles  Stapylton,  who  was  then  at  York,  ‘to  desire 
he  wod.  make  due  Inquiry  into  the  Same’.58  Stapylton  visited  the  prison  with  John  Mayer,  an 
attorney  and  York  alderman  who  soon  afterwards  became  Lord  Mayor,  and  took  depositions 
from  several  prisoners.  Then  Sir  Miles  let  the  informations  lie  for  some  time  and  subsequently 
lost  them.  The  informants,  doubting  whether  Stapylton  would  ‘meddle  any  further’,  sent 
their  narrative  to  Dawson  who  laid  it  before  Witton,  wanting  another  Justice  to  act  with  him. 
Witton  called  the  gaoler  to  the  Leeds  Quarter  Sessions  to  answer  the  charges  against  him, 
and  Griffiths  duly  came,  with  a clutch  of  sworn  testimonies  in  his  own  defence.  The  assembled 
magistrates  - ‘no  less  than  16  Justices,  many  of  them  of  the  first  Quality’  - decided  that  a 
further  investigation  was  called  for.59 

That  investigation  will  be  followed  in  some  detail  for  the  light  that  it  throws  on  conditions 
for  prisoners  and  on  the  cumbersome  procedures  for  punishing  abuses.  Witton  and  Dawson 
went  to  York  castle  on  26  October  1741  and  personally  took  the  sworn  testimonies  of  a 
number  of  prisoners,  piecing  together  an  account  of  how7  Petyt  had  met  his  death.  The 
immediate  cause  of  the  incident  came  when  Petyt’s  mother  Ann,  also  a prisoner  for  debt  in 
the  same  gaol  but  in  a different  day  room  to  her  son,  was  objected  to  by  a fellow7  inmate,  Batty 
and  his  wife,  who  ‘say’d  she  was  so  Lousy  & Filthy  that  she  was  a Nusance  to  their  Room’.60 
Hearing  of  this,  Petyt  quarrelled  with  Batty,  upon  which  George  Scott,  the  turnkey,  and 
Richard  Cooper,  the  drawer,  were  called.  Then: 

by  Order  of  Griffith  the  Gaoler  [they]  Haul’d  him  towards  the  Dungeon,  This  was  on  the  7th 
of  August  last,  at  wch  time  Petyt  was  so  Strong  and  healthful,  & made  so  Great  a Resistance  agt. 
being  carryed  to  that  Wretched  Hole  that  he  had  like  to  have  Overpowered  those  two  persons, 
which  the  Gaoler  himself  seeing,  he  came  in  to  their  Assistance,  with  whose  Help,  & by  giving  him 
several  Blows,  & Bruises,  they  at  last  Forc’d  him  into  the  Dungeon.  A Place  Under-Ground 
which  Mr.  Dawson  & I viewed  so  Moist,  & Unhealthfull,  that  we  both  of  us  Wondred  how  any 
One  could  live  in  it  so  long  as  Petyt  did  which  was  Eleven  days.61 

The  dungeon  was  not  literally  underground,  but  on  the  ground  floor  podium  level.  The 
magistrates’  impression  arose  from  the  fact  that  these  cells,  normally  for  felons,  were  largely 
windowless  and  accessible  only  from  the  first  floor.62  However,  the  cell  was  clearly  cold  and 
wet  enough  to  daunt,  not  only  two  gentlemen  used  to  comfortable  living,  but  also  hardened 
prisoners.  One  such,  John  Kaye,  testified  that  he  ‘had  been  several  Years  in  Goal  and  that  he 
was  a stronger  Man  than  Petyt  and  that  Petyt  was  Eleven  Days  in  the  Condemned  Flole  where 
he  this  Informant  could  not  have  lived  Four  Days’.63  The  gaoler  himself  admitted  that  the 

58  Witton  to  Newcastle,  2 November  1741,  BL,  Add.  MSS,  32698,  fob  252'. 

59  WYAS,  Wakefield,  QS  Rolls  box  139,  4;  Richard  Witton  to  Duke  of  Newcastle,  3 November  1741, 
BL,  Add.  MSS,  32698,  fob  252v. 

60  Witton  to  Newcastle,  2 November  1741,  Ibid.,  fob  250r. 

61  Ibid.,  fob  250v. 

62  See  Leeman,  ‘Stone  Walls  do  not  a Prison  Make’,  pp.  27-8. 

63  Information  of  John  Kaye,  prisoner,  before  Witton  and  Dawson,  26  October  1741,  TNA  (PRO), 
ASSI  45  22/2,  fob  56'. 



women’s  condemned  hole  had  not  been  used  for  many  years,  ‘Except  a man  furiously  Mad, 
& that  only  for  a few  Hours’.64 

Several  prisoners  testified  to  the  violence  exercised  against  Petyt  by  his  keepers.  Robert 
MacCloud  remonstrated  with  the  attackers  as  they  hauled  Petyt  from  the  Felons’  Grate  and 
along  the  passage  to  the  cell.  He  was  promptly  threatened  by  Griffiths  with  being  put  in  the 
same  dungeon,  and  only  excused  ‘ by  a Fellow  Prisoner  beging  Pardon  for  him’.65  Kaye  later 
‘found  the  said  Petyt  in  the  Dungeon  Mourning  [sic]  and  often  after  he  heard  him  Complaining 
of  Coldness  and  Bruises  given  him  by  their  ill  Usage  and  laid  his  Death  to  their  Charge  and 
...  there  was  a Deal  of  Blood  came  from  him  the  said  Petyt  as  appeared  amongst  the  Straw  the 
said  Petyt  laid  on’.66  The  lack  of  medical  care,  of  which  Witton  had  already  heard  a month 
before,  became  apparent  in  this  case:  ‘tho’  the  several  Ridings  allow  a Competent  Sallary  to 
a Surgeon  & an  Apothecary  for  attending  all  poor  Prisoners  when  sick  or  ill  yet  such  Surgeons 
were  not  allowed  to  attend  this  poor  Man  or  Minister  any  relief  to  him.’67  When  let  out,  veiy 
weak  and  ill,  Petyt  attempted  to  work  but  did  not  recover  and  died  nine  days  later,  on  27 
August,  his  corpse  black  from  head  to  knees  and  marked  with  bruises.  His  mother,  Ann, 

That  when  her  Son  was  Dead  she  View’d  the  body  & Laid  him  in  his  Coffin,  that  his  Neck  & 
throat  were  black  & sweld,  & his  Members  were  black,  & the  blackness  continued  down  his 
Thighs.  That  he  Twisted  two  pounds  & half  of  Yarn  after  he  was  Discharged  from  the  Dungeon 
but  was  so  ill  he  was  forced  to  get  a Man  to  Wind  & Reel  it,  he  was  so  bad  he  coud  not  do  it 

This  evidence  gives  a glimpse  not  only  of  Petyt’s  bodily  sufferings  but  of  the  small 
commercial  interchanges  of  the  debtors,  and  their  attempts  by  every  means  to  continue  their 
trade  or  otherwise  earn  money.  William  Fountain,  one  of  the  prisoners  chosen  by  Griffiths  to 
testify  for  him,  had  asked  Petyt  to  twist  some  yarn  for  him,  to  make  a fishing  knot.  Petyt  told 

he  was  so  ill  that  he  was  afraid  that  he  could  not  do  it  for  him  but  he  would  try  to  do  it,  and 
about  two  or  three  hours  after  he  came  to  this  Informant  and  told  him  that  he  had  been  tying 
to  twist  the  yarn  for  him  but  could  not,  for  the  Blows  and  Bruises  he  said  he  had  rece’d  from  the 
Gaoler  and  his  Servants  had  rendred  him  unable  to  do  any  business.69 

Petyt  also  told  Fountain  that  the  true  cause  of  his  confinement  was  that  he  had  laid  an 
information  against  Griffiths  the  month  before.  As  Witton  summarised  it;  ‘the  Real  Cause  is 
believ’d  to  be  this;  that  Petit  at  the  last  Assizes  complained  agt.  Griffiths  the  Goaler  for 
Extortion  & other  Oppressions  towards  him  & his  other  Prisoners’.70  As  in  the  petitions  of 

64  Witton  to  Newcastle,  2 November  1741,  BL,  Add.  MSS,  32698,  fol.  250v. 

65  Evidence  of  Robert  Mackelowd  (sic:  signed  mac  Clloud),  26  October  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  ASSI 
45  22/2,  fol.  57r.  See  also  evidence  of  John  Pickersgill  and  Christopher  Whitling,  ibid.,  fols.  58- 

66  Information  of  John  Kaye,  26  October  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  ASSI  45  22/2,  fol.  56r. 

67  Witton  to  Newcastle,  2 November  1741,  BL,  Add.  MSS,  32698,  fol.  251r. 

68  Evidence  of  Ann  Petyt,  26  October  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  ASSI  45  22/2,  fol.  58r. 

69  Evidence  of  William  Fountain,  sworn  beforejaques  Stern,  Francis  Barlow  and  Mark  and  Francis 
Braithwait,  3 October  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  SP  36/57,  fol.  5r. 

70  Witton  to  Newcastle,  23  November  1741,  BL,  Add.  MSS,  32698,  fol.  363. 


17  i 

Queen  Anne’s  reign,  there  may  have  been  an  attempt  by  some  prisoners,  including  Petyt,  to 
protest  at  the  way  in  which  the  keeper  of  the  gaol  abused  his  commercial  monopoly. 

Once  these  depositions  had  been  gathered  and  the  outline  of  events  was  clear,  Witton  and 
Dawson  called  a meeting  at  York  castle  on  Tuesday  27  October  to  decide  what  steps  to  take. 
They  met  with  two  other  Justices,  Mark  Braithwait  of  Deighton  and  Francis  Barlow,  who 
had  been  among  those  called  by  Griffiths  on  3 October  to  take  the  original  testimonies  in  his 
defence.  Witton  wanted  to  proceed  against  the  coroner,  scandalised  by  his  irregular 
procedures,  and  was  insistent  that  the  four  justices  assembled  should  charge  and  commit 
Griffith,  Scott  and  Cooper  all  three.  Dawson  was  happy  to  act  against  the  two  gaol  servants, 
but  less  sure  that  the  evidence  would  allow  them  to  commit  Griffith.  However  the  two  other 
Justices,  Barlow  and  Braithwait,  were  against  any  committal  at  all  and  made  an  entry  to  that 
effect  in  the  Castle  Book.71  Witton  made  a warrant  of  commitment  for  all  three  prison 
officers,  but  the  two  dissenting  magistrates  pressed  him  to  wait  for  the  High  Sheriff,  Sir 
Lionel  Pilkington,  to  be  sent  for.  The  next  day  Pilkington  came  and  asked  for  bail  to  be 
taken  for  Griffiths  as  he  could  not  at  short  notice  find  a replacement  gaoler  to  secure  the 
prison  against  escapes.  On  this,  reported  Witton,  ‘Mr.  Barlow  & Dr.  Braithwaite  did  then 
Declare  in  some  Heat,  that  tho  I sho’d  commit  them  for  Murther,  yet  nevertheless  they  wod 
Bail  them,  a Doctrine  very  Strange  to  me  that  have  been  Bred  a Lawyer’.72 

Writing  soon  after  these  events,  he  told  the  Duke  of  Newcastle  how,  when  at  the  bar,  he  had 
heard  Lord  Chief  Justice  Holt  rule  against  bailing,  as  being  a deterrent  to  prosecution.  This 
would  be  much  more  so  in  the  present  case,  he  argued,  ‘where  all  the  King’s  Witnesses  were 
under  the  Power  and  Terror  of  the  Goaler,  & liable  to  be  practised  on  by  him.’  Nonetheless, 
Barlow  and  Braithwait  granted  bail,  and  took  sureties  from  men  ‘of  Small  Substance’.73 
Undeterred  by  the  practical  and  legal  doubts  of  the  Sheriff,  Witton  and  Dawson  still  opposed 
bail,  ‘thinking  the  Proof  very  strong  to  Convict  the  Offenders  of  Murther’/4  They  issued  a 
warrant  charging  that  Petyt  died  under  duress,  and  sent  a charge  to  the  army  commander  in 
York,  Colonel  Jordan,  to  be  prepared  to  take  over  the  guarding  of  the  prison.70  In  pressing 
the  case  so  hard,  Witton  was  almost  certainly  exceeding  his  authority  but  he  was  driven  by 
a conviction  ‘that  Prisoners  in  a Gaol  are  under  a particular  Protection  of  Law’.76  His  legal 
hero  was  the  seventeenth-century  jurist,  Sir  Matthew  Hale  who,  discussing 

the  several  ways  whereby  a Goaler  may  be  Guilty  of  Murder  towards  his  Prisoner  Amongst 
several  others  mentions  this  viz;  Lying  or  Confining  him  too  Closely  in  a Noisom  place.  And 
says  that  Duress  of  Imprisomt.  is  said  to  be  inflicted  on  every  one  that  by  that  Usage  of  his 
Keeper  is  brought  near  to  Death  & further  from  Life  ...  .77 

71  Witton  to  Newcastle,  2 November  1741,  ibid.,  fol.  253r. 

72  Ibid 

73  Ibid.,  fol.  253v.  Sir  John  Holt  (1642-1710)  was  famed  for  his  impartiality  and  his  regard  for  the 
rights  of  the  accused. 

74  Witton  to  Newcastle  31  October  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  SP  36/57,  fol.  43v. 

75  Warrant  to  Sir  Lyonel  Pilkington,  Bart,  High  Sheriff,  and  John  Wilmer,  gentleman,  Under- 
sheriff, 27  October  1741;  Charge  to  the  troops,  28  October  1741,  ibid.,  fols.  50-1. 

76  Witton  to  Newcastle  31  October  1741,  ibid.,  fol.  45r. 

Witton  to  Newcastle,  23  November  1741,  BL,  Add.  32698,  fol.  364r. 




It  was  this  strong  sense  of  the  protections  given  to  prisoners  by  the  Common  Law  which 
convinced  Witton  that  Griffiths  should  be  brought  to  trial  for  murder. 

The  testimonies  produced  by  the  prison  governor  himself  told,  naturally,  a very  different 
story.  George  Whitehouse,  a prisoner  for  debt,  was  the  sole  person  ordered  by  Ward,  the 
coroner,  to  view  Petyt’s  body.  He  claimed  to  have  particularly  scrutinised  it  because  of  the 
rumours  but  to  have  seen  no  marks  of  violence  or  bruising.  Whitehouse  further  volunteered 
that  Petyt  had  often  complained  to  him  ‘that  he  had  frequent  pains  in  his  Body  which  he 
believed  to  be  owing  to  his  much  leaning  over  his  Loom  when  at  his  work  for  he  was  a 
weaver  by  trade...’.78  Prisoners  George  Batty  and  James  Collison  both  testified  that  Petyt,  ‘an 
ill-natured  peevish  obstinate  man’,  was  being  ‘insolent  and  sawcy’  and  violent  towards  the 
turnkey.  In  Collison’s  account,  Petyt  even  admitted  that  he  had  only  his  own  insolence  to 
thank  for  his  confinement/9  William  Wiley,  another  prisoner,  said  Petyt  was  a dropsical 
infirm  man  and  was  as  well  when  he  came  out  of  the  dungeon  as  when  he  went  in,  making  no 
complaint  of  ill  usage,  and  that  this  ‘would  be  confirmed  by  eveiy  person  in  the  Goal  except 
five  or  six  turbulent  persons.’80  There  was  a ‘distemper’  raging  in  the  gaol  and  James 
Dodsworth,  the  York  apothecary  and  surgeon  employed  to  take  care  of  West  Riding  prisoners, 
testified  that  Petyt  died  solely  of  a fever  and  at  no  time  complained  of  any  bruises  or  ill 
treatment.81  Peter  Law,  a charity  school  apprentice  to  Dodsworth,  duly  swore  that  Petyt  had 
been  given  medical  treatment  for  a fever,  though  no  other  witness  confirmed  this.82  The 
medical  evidence  was  crucial  to  the  case,  and  in  late  November  Witton  called  the  delinquent 
West  Riding  surgeon  before  him  to  testify  again,  though  Dodsworth  merely  held  to  his 
original  story.83 

Griffiths  and  his  assistants,  to  discredit  the  hostile  witnesses,  accused  them  of  staging  a 
riot  on  the  evening  of  1 October  in  which  the  prisoners  unbolted  the  cell  doors  along  the 
gallery,  attacked  the  prison  officers  and  refused  to  be  confined  in  their  cells,  breaking  a door 
and  a padlock.  They  allegedly  cried  out  in  the  assault,  ‘we  will  have  no  Governour  here’,  and 
the  warders,  it  was  claimed,  had  to  take  primed  firearms  to  their  rooms  with  them  to  sleep.84 
Though  no  doubt  exaggerated,  the  incident  reveals  the  anger  of  some  prisoners  against  their 
gaoler.  The  coroner,  attorney  Robert  Ward  of  Howden,  presented  Petyt  as  the  former 
spokesman  of  this  discontented  group.  Petyt  told  him  in  person,  he  said,  ‘that  others  who 
had  made  bolts  for  him  to  shoot  should  for  the  future  shoot  ‘em  themselves  for  he  would 

78  Deposition  of  George  Whitehouse,  3 October  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  SP  36/57,  fol.  7r. 

79  Affidavits  of  Batty  and  Collison,  3 October  1741,  ibid.,  fols.  8r  & 9r. 

80  Information  of  William  Wiley,  6 November  1741,  sworn  before  Jaques  Stern,  Mark  Braithwait, 
Francis  Barlow  and  Richard  Braithwait,  ibid.,  fol.  69v. 

81  Deposition  of  James  Dodsworth,  3 October  1741,  sworn  before  Jaques  Sterne,  Doctor  of  Laws, 
Mark  Braithwait  Doctor  of  Laws,  Francis  Barlow  and  Richard  Braithwait  Esqs.,  Justices  of  the  Peace 
for  the  West  Riding,  ibid.,  fol.  66r. 

82  Information  of  Peter  Law,  6 November  1741,  ibid.,  fol.  67v. 

83  Information  of  James  Dodsworth,  27  November  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  ASSI  45  22/2,  case  of  King 
and  Griffiths,  15  March  1742,  fol.  55Ar_v. 

84  Information  of  Thomas  Griffith,  Michael  Harland,  John  Foster,  John  Hartley  and  John 
Barret  , 3 October  1741,  TNA  (PRO),  SP  36/57,  fol.  IP. 



meddle  no  more  with  them  for  they  left  him  the  said  Petty  to  bear  all  the  burthen.’85  It  was 
crucial  to  the  gaoler’s  case  to  show  that,  despite  his  being  a disaffected  and  surly  man,  Petyt 
had  been  treated  with  scrupulous  fairness.  John  Hartley,  a trusted  prisoner  and  servant  to 
Griffith,  even  claimed  that  Petyt’s  bed  had  been  carried  down  into  the  dungeon  by  Scott,  the 
turnkey.  Rather  incongruously,  he  also  recorded  the  gaoler’s  first  response  when  Petyt  asked 
for  some  straw  to  lie  on,  which  was  the  gruff  retort  that  the  straw  did  not  belong  to  the 
prisoners.  He  gave  in  general  though  a highly  flattering  account  of  Griffiths’  good  intentions 
towards  Petyt,  and  claimed  ‘that  the  said  Strong  Room  is  a sweeter  and  drier  room  than  some 
in  the  Upper  Gaol  where  debtors  now  lie.’86  As  Witton  and  Dawson  had  seen  the  dungeon  for 
themselves,  this  particular  falsehood  must  only  have  increased  their  anger  over  perjured 
testimony  and  their  sense  of  the  manipulative  power  of  the  gaoler.87  Witton’s  letter  to 
Newcastle  was  angry  and  direct: 

Prisoners  under  the  Power  and  Influence  of  Goalers  may,  God  knows,  be  brought  to  swear 
almost  any  thing.  Of  which  the  present  Case  I fear  will  be  a remarkable  Instance.  The  vox  populi 
runns  Strong  agt.  the  Goaler  & his  Servants,  yet  as  they  have  the  intire  Power  over  the  King’s 
Evidence,  and  must  have  so,  till  the  Hour  of  Tryal,  I shall  not  at  all  wonder  to  see  them  Acquit, 
tho’  never  so  Guilty.88 

Acquitted  they  indeed  were.  In  March  1741/2,  the  case  of  Rex  v.  Griffiths  was  brought 
before  York  Assizes,  the  gaoler’s  place  being  held  temporarily  by  the  senior  Serjeant  of  the 
Mace,  the  long-serving  George  Berry.89  Griffiths  was  probably  guilty  of  manslaughter,  and 
certainly  guilty  of  great  abuse  of  power,  but  given  the  position  that  he  held  and  the  way  in 
which  the  witness  depositions  conflicted,  a conviction  was  never  likely.  The  charge  was 
almost  certainly  ‘not  found’  by  the  jury,  and  the  case  dismissed,  though  the  formal  record  of 
this  does  not  appear  to  survive.  In  March  1742/3,  though,  Griffiths  appears  in  the  records  of 
the  Assize  court,  once  more  a gaoler,  ‘of  the  Castle  of  York,  gent.’,  offering  recognizances  in 
the  substantial  sum  of  a hundred  pounds  for  a man  accused  of  perjury.90  He  remained  in  his 
post  until  early  1746  when  he  was  dismissed  after  falling  out  violently  with  the  York  magistrate, 
Dr.  Jaques  Sterne.91  At  this  time,  the  gaol  was  crowded  by  some  227  additional  inmates, 
prisoners  taken  in  the  still-current  Jacobite  rebellion.  The  Archbishop  of  York,  Thomas 
Herring,  was  a national  celebrity  for  his  leadership  in  forming  a militia  in  York  to  defend  the 
city  against  the  army  of  the  young  Pretender,  Prince  Charles  Edward  Stuart.  Even  at  the 

85  Affidavit  of  Robert  Ward,  3 October  1741,  ibid. 

86  Ibid.,  fol.  68r. 

87  See  also  the  evidence  of  Charles  Goodhand,  Robert  Macklood  (sic),  Thomas  Goldart  and  John 
Holtby,  ibid.,  fols.  68-70. 

88  R.  Witton  to  Newcastle,  23  November  1741,  BL,  Add.  MSS,  32698,  fol.  364r. 

89  TNA  (PRO),  ASSI  44/56,  NE  Circuit  Indictments,  unfoliated,  "15  March  1741/2;  Berry  and  his 
son  figure  frequently  in  the  York  Sheriff’s  Court  Papers,  e.g.  YCA,  F70,  F85,  F62,  F15. 

90  Assizes  Gaol  Book,  Northeastern  Circuit,  1736-62,  gaol  delivery  7 March  1742/3,  TNA  (PRO), 
ASSI  41/4.  The  man  was  Thomas  Hunter,  which  was  also  the  name  of  Griffiths’  maternal  grandfather, 
so  this  may  have  been  a relative. 

91  B.  R.  Hartley,  ‘Thomas  Griffith  of  York,  “once  Governor  of  the  Castle  and  now  a Debtor  from 
the  same’”,  York  Historian  XI  (1994),  p.  43;  Jonathan  Oates,  ‘York  and  the  Rebel  Prisoners,  1745— 
1752’,  York  Historian  XVII  (2000),  p.  49. 



height  of  these  stirring  events,  though,  Herring  was  compelled  to  complain  to  his  friend  and 
patron,  Lord  Idardwicke,  the  Lord  Chancellor,  about  the  conditions  that  lay  behind  the 
baroque  elegance  of  the  city’s  prison: 

as  the  assizes  draw  so  near  it  behoves  thejudge  that  comes  the  circuit  to  look  to  that  matter  of 
the  jail.  The  prisoners  die  and  the  Recorder  told  me  yesterday,  when  the  turnkey  opens  the  cells 
in  the  morning,  the  steam  and  stench  is  intolerable  and  scarce  credible.  The  very  walls  are 
covered  with  lice  in  the  room  over  which  the  Grand  Jury  sit.9" 

In  a kind  of  rough  justice,  Griffiths  himself  was  later  to  experience  these  conditions  at 
first  hand.  By  1750  he  was  deeply  in  debt  to  several  creditors,  and  some  time  early  in  the  next 
year  was  confined  in  his  own  former  prison,  where  he  died  in  November  1751.  Ironically,  his 
debts  were  contracted  by  greatly  over-optimistic  borrowing  to  fund  his  speculative  building 
of  houses  in  Maiygate.  His  downfall  came  through  the  ’polite’  expansion  of  the  town  that 
had  been  spearheaded  by  the  building  of  his  own  gaol.93 

The  interest  of  the  Petyt-Griffiths  case  lies  in  the  light  that  it  sheds  on  the  gulf  between 
this  expanding  polite  world  of  York  and  the  conditions  for  prisoners  within  the  walls  of  one 
of  the  city’s  leading  buildings.  Describing  the  castle  gaol  in  1736,  Francis  Drake,  himself  a 
surgeon,  had  commented  particularly  on  the  healthy  conditions  and  medical  care  offered  to 
the  inmates: 

The  justices  of  peace  for  this  county  have  of  late  years  taken  great  care  that  this  goal  should 
be  as  neat  and  convenient  within,  as  it  is  noble  without;  by  allowing  of  straw  for  the  felons,  and 
raising  their  beds  which  before  used  to  be  upon  the  ground.  They  have  likewise  caused  an 
infirmary  to  be  built,  for  the  sick  to  be  carried  out  of  the  common  prison;  allowed  a yearly  salary 
to  a surgeon  to  attend  them,  and  have  repaired  the  castle  walls  quite  round.94 

The  complaints  made  to  Richard  Witton  and  the  experience  of  William  Petyt  show  how 
sanguine  such  ideas  were.  Not  only  did  the  prisoners  not  receive  the  medical  assistance  paid 
for  by  the  county  but  even  the  supposed  allowance  of  straw  seems  to  have  been  regarded  by 
the  gaoler  as  his  private  property.  In  the  long  retrospect  of  hindsight,  the  abusive  treatment 
of  Petyt  may  not  seem  to  be  the  most  important  thing  to  be  noted  about  conditions  in  the 
York  castle  gaol.  Historians  might  claim  it  as  a success  for  the  country’s  gentry  administrative 
system  that  the  West  Riding  justices  should  have  shown  such  active  concern  for  their  charges 
held  in  the  prison.  They  might  point  out  how  significant  it  is  that  there  could  be  such 
repeated  petitions  from  prisoners;  and  that  the  latter  could  agitate  effectively  through  official 
channels  over  the  fate  of  a fellow-inmate.95  Compared  with  the  maltreatment  and  even  torture 
that  were  commonplace  in  the  Fleet  and  Marshalsea  gaols  of  London,  the  conditions  in  York 
were  perhaps  less  abusive.  We  should  not,  though,  assume  that  the  ability  of  prisoners  to 
petition  the  Justices  meant  that,  in  the  three  months  between  each  Quarter  Sessions,  all  was 
well  within  the  gaol  or  that  life  there  was  not  unhealthy,  uncomfortable  and  at  times  dangerous. 

92  Thomas  Herring,  Archbishop  of  York,  to  Philip  Yorke,  Lord  Hardwicke,  Bishopthorpe,  14 
February  1746,  in  Philip  Yorke,  The  Life  and  Correspondence  of  Philip  Yorke,  Earl  of  Hardwicke, 
Lord  High  Chancellor  of  Great  Britain  (Cambridge,  1913),  p.  501. 

93  Hartley,  ‘Thomas  Griffith  of  York’,  pp.  40-55. 

94  Drake,  Eboracum,  p.  287. 

95  As,  for  instance,  DeLacy,  Prison  Reform  in  Lancashire , pp.  53-4. 



Above  all,  the  Petyt  case  highlights  not  the  contrasts  but  the  similarities  between  the  position 
of  prisoners  for  debt  in  London  and  in  the  country’s  leading  provincial  gaol.  Contemporary 
visitors  were  wrong  to  take  at  face  value  the  classical  symmetry  and  apparent  roominess  of 
the  debtors’  prison  building.  Conditions  were  no  doubt  at  their  worst,  and  became  dangerous 
to  health  and  life,  when  prisons  experienced  overcrowding.  On  the  evidence  of  York  in  the 
first  half  of  the  eighteenth  century,  though,  it  would  seem  that  some  fundamental  underlying 
problems  arose  from  the  financial  interests  and  extensive  authority  of  the  gaolers.  Protests 
at  unjust  fees  and  extortion  occur  in  numerous  petitions,  and  the  resulting  sense  of  oppression 
and  unfairness  must  have  poisoned  the  lives  of  many  debtors.  The  unpaid  volunteer  gentiy 
who  filled  the  offices  of  Sheriff  and  Justices  of  the  Peace  could  exert  no  close  or  regular 
control  over  the  regime  created  by  the  gaoler  and  his  servants.  As  the  Petyt  case  shows,  even 
the  greatest  abuses  could  not,  ultimately,  be  punished,  far  less  prevented.  The  commercial 
and  semi-privatised  nature  of  the  prison  system  gave  great  scope  to  the  ‘power  and  influence 
of  gaolers’.  When  an  inhumane  or  greedy  man  occupied  the  office,  there  could  be  a savage 
contrast  between  the  handsome  exterior  and  fashionable  yard  of  York  gaol,  and  the  suffering 
and  stench  within. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 





i?pRuth  M.  Larsen 

The  aristocratic  way  of  life  was  closed  tied  up  to  aristocracy’s  way  of  death:  for  a leading 
member  of  one  generation  to  die  was  to  advance  the  dynastic  future  of  the  family  in  the  next 
generation,  as  bereavement  reshaped  the  identities  of  living  and  dead.  These  new  identities 
could  be  shaped  by  mourning  practices,  which  stressed  familial  alliances;  through  the  offering 
of  consolation  to  the  bereaved,  which  allowed  friends  and  distant  relations  to  provide  support; 
and  through  commemoration,  which  allowed  the  identities  of  the  deceased  to  be  recreated 
and  fixed,  quite  literally,  in  stone.  This  article  explores  these  practices  by  examining  the 
experiences  of  elite  women  in  Yorkshire,  and  argues  that  their  hew’  identities  were  shaped 
by  the  notion  of  \ aristocratic  femininity’,  an  ideal  associated  with  both  their  gender  and 
their  class.1 

When  Lady  Elizabeth  Lechmere  wrote  to  her  father  in  1721,  ‘I  think  the  loss  of  those  one 
loves  is  the  greatest  affliction  that  can  happen  in  this  life’,  her  comment  reflected  a common 
response  to  a family  death:  sadness  at  the  loss  of  one  that  was  loved.  She  was  writing  following 
the  death  of  her  brother-in-law,  Rich,  fifth  Viscount  Irwin  of  Temple  Newsam,  Leeds,  and 
was  reflecting  on  the  sorrow  of  the  new  widow,  her  sister  Anne.2  It  was  expected  that 
following  the  death  of  a family  member  an  aristocrat  would  go  into  mourning  and  it  was 
usual  for  them  to  match  this  formal  public  act  with  the  private  emotion  of  grief.  The  death  of 
an  aristocrat,  though,  was  not  just  a sad  event;  it  had  a range  of  consequences  for  the 
immediate  family  and,  possibly,  for  wider  society  too.  Death  was  the  motor  which  moved 
aristocratic  families  forward;  it  was  essential  to  any  new  chapter  in  their  dynastic  history. 
The  death  of  the  male  head  of  the  family  would  lead  to  a significant  change  in  the  titles  and 
public  identities  of  various  family  members.  Following  the  death  of  an  Earl  of  Carlisle,  for 
example,  his  eldest  son  and  his  wife  would  become  the  Earl  and  Countess  of  Carlisle;  he 
would  move  to  the  House  of  Lords,  and  so  would  have  to  give  up  his  parliamentary  seat  in 
the  Commons  if  he  had  held  one.  His  son  would  now  hold  the  courtesy  title  of  Viscount 
Morpeth,  and  the  new  widow  would  become  the  dowager  Countess  of  Carlisle.  Death  played 
an  important  role  in  shaping  the  identities  of  elites. 

This  essay  explores  the  impact  of  death  on  the  public  and  private  identities  of  elite  women 
in  eighteenth  and  nineteenth  century  Yorkshire.  It  considers  the  various  practices  and 
customs  associated  with  death  and  their  roles  in  shaping  and  changing  the  perceptions  of 
individual  aristocrats.  Responses  to  a death  are  explored  and  the  impact  of  losing  a family 

1 The  essay  on  which  this  article  is  based  was  awarded  the  Yorkshire  Society’s  Yorkshire  History  Prize 
for  2005.  Many  thanks  to  Elaine  Chalus,  Allen  Warren  and  Jane  Rendall  who  all  read  earlier 
versions  of  it.  My  thanks  are  due  also  to  the  Hon.  Simon  Howard  of  Castle  Howard  and  the 
Directors  of  the  Burton  Constable  Foundation  for  allowing  me  to  use  their  archival  collections. 

2 Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/356,  Elizabeth  Lechmere  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  n.d.  [1721]. 



member  is  considered  through  a study  of  their  letters,  accounts  and  other  sources.3  The 
mourning  and  grieving  cultures  are  also  highlighted  and  the  specific  roles  that  these  gave 
women  are  assessed.  The  creation  of  new  identities  for  aristocratic  women  is  then  discussed, 
with  special  focus  on  the  composition  and  creation  of  memorial  items,  from  formal  monuments 
to  obituaries,  including  monuments  from  Westminster  Abbey  and  York  Minster.  While 
these  actions  are  by  no  means  confined  to  elite  women  in  Yorkshire,  by  exploring  the 
actions  of  a small  group  of  women,  mainly  from  three  families  residing  at  Burton  Constable, 
near  Hull;  Castle  Howard,  near  Malton;  and  Temple  Newsam,  near  Leeds;  it  is  possible  to 
gain  a wider  understanding  of  the  way  the  elites  responded  to  death.  This  paper  argues  that 
death  played  a central  role  in  the  assertion  and  creation  of  elite  women’s  identities  at  the 
time  of  a family  member’s  passing,  as  well  as  that  of  their  own  death.  The  reshaping  of  identities 
due  to  bereavement  was  not  a phenomenon  exclusive  to  the  eighteenth  and  nineteenth 
centuries,  and  the  reassessment  of  individuals  and  their  roles  following  a death  can  be  found  in 
many  time  periods  and  locales.  However,  the  nature  of  the  identities  assigned  to  people  does 
reflect  the  ideals  of  the  period  when  the  reassignment  took  place.  For  this  period,  those  ideals 
for  elite  women  can  be  described  as  conforming  to  ‘aristocratic  femininity’,  and  so  the 
posthumous  image  of  a woman  was  often  shaped  by  both  the  ideals  of  wider  society  and  the 
desires  of  her  family,  rather  then  reflecting  her  own  self-defined  identity. 

The  women  of  the  aristocracy  were  expected  to  conform  to  a distinctive  form  of  femininity, 
although,  in  practice,  very  few  were  able  to  match  the  ideals  of  society.  Women  in  the 
eighteenth  and  nineteenth  centuries  were  increasingly  expected  to  be  ‘domestic’,  concerned 
with  the  issues  of  home  and  family.  The  virtues  of  chastity,  kindness  and  humility  were  ideals 
which  could  be  best  fulfilled  within  the  domestic  sphere.4  Domesticity  was  not  simply  about 
running  the  household  effectively,  but  also  had  emotional  qualities.  Being  devoted  to  one’s 
family  and  home  life  were  also  important  features  of  the  life  of  the  domestic  woman.  This 
ideal  of  domesticity  was  shaped  by  notions  of  sentimentality,  which  had  increasing  currency 
during  the  later-eighteenth  and  early-nineteenth  centuries,  with  writers  such  as  Rousseau, 
whose  work  was  read  by  many  elite  women,  discussing  the  values  of  sentiment  and  sensibility 

3 Among  the  studies  which  have  explored  the  histories  of  death  are:  R.  Houlbrooke,  Death,  Religion 
and  the  Family  in  England,  1480-1750  (Oxford,  1998);  K.  S.  Guthke,  The  Gender  of  Death.  A 
Cultural  History  in  Art  and  Literature  (Cambridge,  1999);  P.'  Metcalf  and  R.  Huntington, 
Celebrations  of  Death.  The  Anthropology  of  Mortuary  Ritual,  second  edition  (Cambridge,  1991);  P. 
C.  Jupp  and  C.  Gittings  (eds.),  Death  in  England.  An  Illustrated  History  (Manchester,  1999);  P. 
Aries,  Western  Attitudes  toward  Death:  From  the  Middle  Ages  to  the  Present , Trans.  P.  M.  Ranum 
(London,  1976);  J.  McManners,  ‘Death  and  the  French  historians’,  in  Mirrors  of  Mortality.  Studies 
in  the  Social  History  of  Death,  ed.  J.  Whaley  (London,  1981),  pp.  106-30;  and  P.  Jalland,  Death  in 
the  Victorian  Family  (Oxford,  1996). 

4 For  studies  of  the  domestic  roles  of  elite  women  see,  among  others:  J.  S.  Lewis,  In  the  Family  Way. 
Childbearing  in  the  British  Aristocracy  1760- 1860 {Slew  Brunswick,  N.J.,  1986);  J.  Gerard,  Country 
House  Life,  Family  and  Servants,  1815- 1914  (Oxford,  1994);  A.  Vickery,  The  Gentleman’s  Daughter. 
Women’s  Lives  in  Georgian  England  (London,  1998). 



in  their  work.5  Many  works  from  this  date  idealized  the  home  as  the  location  of  ‘felicitous 
sentimental’  domesticity,  with  the  ‘affectionate  husband’  and  ‘natural  mother’  at  the  centre 
of  the  narratives.6  While  the  social  status  of  elite  women  and  the  staff  available  to  them  meant 
that  it  was  not  necessary  for  them  to  take  on  the  workoi  the  domestic  woman,  as  the  ideals 
of  domesticity  were  considered  important  signifiers  of  sensibility  and  femininity  it  was 
important  to  be  seen  as  fulfilling  the  roles  of  the  domestic  woman. 

However,  it  would  be  erroneous  to  think  that  elite  women  were  confined  to  the  private 
sphere/  They  were  not  restricted  by  a lack  of  finance  or  mobility  as  many  women  from  other 
social  classes  were,  and  so  were  not  only  able  but  were  expected  to  have  a public  role.  It 
could  be  argued  that  of  all  women,  they  had  access  to  the  widest  opportunities;  Joan  Perkin 
describes  English  aristocratic  wives  of  the  nineteenth  centuiy  as  ‘the  most  liberated  women 
in  Europe’.8  Historians  such  as  Elaine  Chalus  and  K.  D.  Reynolds  have  examined  the  important 
role  that  elite  women  played  in  eighteenth-century  political  society,  and  their  ability  to 
become  public  figures,  within  certain  constraints.9  The  idea  that  women  were  nothing  more 
than  decorative  appendages  to  their  politician  husbands  has  been  challenged,  and  their 
influence  in  the  political  world,  through  patterns  of  patronage  and  their  own  efforts  in 
philanthropic  and  social  causes,  has  been  demonstrated.  These  studies  have  established  that 
women  could  be  as  influential  as  their  husbands  and  fathers  in  the  political  arena,  at 
Westminster,  the  Court,  and  in  their  local  communities.10  Elite  women  were  not  just  women, 
but  aristocrats  too;  their  wealth  and  class  made  the  real  difference  in  terms  of  access  into 
public  life,  and  so  birth  overrode  gender.  As  Reynolds  notes:  ‘In  relation  to  their  own 
families  and,  to  an  extent,  their  own  class,  aristocratic  women  were  first  and  foremost 

For  example,  Frances,  Viscountess  Irwin  bought  a six  volume  copy  of  La  Nouvelle  Heloise'm  1761  for 
15  shillings;  West  Yorkshire  Archives  Service,  Leeds  [hereafter  WYAS],  TN/EA/12/18,  Bills  for  Books, 
stationary,  etc.,  Bill  to  Mrs  Ingram  from  J.  Jackson,  1761.  Also,  the  fifth  Earl  of  Carlisle  read  Sterne’s 
Sentimental Journey{\16Q)  in  the  1770s,  and  recommended  his  wife  read  it  too.  See  Carlisle  MSS,J  15/ 
1/2,  Frederick,  fifth  Earl  of  Carlisle,  to  Caroline  Carlisle,  Paris,  [1771-3].  For  a discussion  of  the  rise  of 
the  sentimental  in  the  literature  of  the  period  see:  G.J.  Barker-Benfield,  The  Culture  of  Sensibility.  Sex 
and  Society  in  Eighteenth-Century  Britain  (Chicago,  111.,  1992),  esp.  ch.  6;  J.  Mullan,  Sentiment  and 
Sociability  The  Language  of  Feeling  in  the  Eighteenth  Century  (Oxford,  1988);  J.  Brewer,  The  Pleas- 
ures of  the  Lmagination:  English  Culture  in  the  Eighteenth  Century  { London,  1997). 

6 Brewer,  The  Pleasures  of  the  Lmagination,  pp.  114-22,  esp.  p.  116. 

7 The  most  influential  work  on  separate  spheres  is  L.  Davidoff  and  C.  Hall,  Family  Fortunes:  Men 
and  Women  of  the  English  Middle  Class  1780-1850 \ revised  edn  (London,  2002).  For  the  subsequent 
debates  on  this  issue  see,  for  example:  H.  Barker  and  E.  Chalus,  ‘Introduction’,  in  Gender  in 
Eighteenth-Century  England:  Roles,  Representations  and  Responsibilities , ed.  H.  Barker  and  E. 
Chalus  (London,  1997),  p.  18;  L.  Kerber,  ‘Separate  spheres,  female  worlds,  woman’s  place:  the 
rhetoric  of  women’s  history’,  Journal  of  American  Historylb  (1988),  9-39;  J.  Rendall,  ‘Women  and 
the  public  sphere’,  Gender  and  History  11  (1999),  475-488.  A.  Vickery,  ‘The  Golden  Age  to  separate 
spheres?  A review  of  the  categories  and  chronology  of  English  women’s  history’,  The  Historical 
Journal 36  (1993),  383-404. 

H J.  Perkin,  Women  and  Marriage  in  Nineteenth-Century  England  (London,  1989),  p.  5. 

9 See,  for  example:  E.  Chalus,  ‘ Elite  Woman  in  English  Political  Life,  c. 1754-1 790,  (Oxford,  2005) 

10  Other  studies  of  elite  political  women  include:  K.  Gleadle  and  S.  Richardson  (eds.),  Women  in 
British  Politics,  1760-1860:  the  Power  of  the  Petticoat  (London,  2000);  J.  S.  Lewis,  Sacred  to  Female 
Patriotism:  Gender,  Class  and  Politics  in  Late  Georgian  Britain  (London,  2003);  S.  Richardson, 
‘The  role  of  women  in  electoral  politics  in  Yorkshire  during  the  eighteen-thirties’,  Northern  History 
32(1996),  133-51;  A.  Vickery  (ed.),  Women,  Privilege,  and  Power:  British  Politics,  1750 to  the  Present 
(Stanford,  Calif.  2001). 



women.  In  relation  to  the  rest  of  the  world,  they  were  aristocrats  first  and  last’.11  This  meant 
that  aristocratic  femininity  had  to  take  into  account  both  their  public  and  private  roles. 
Along  with  being  virtuous  wives,  mothers  and  siblings,  elite  women  were  also  expected  to  be 
active  within  the  family  in  their  duties  as  aristocrats.  They  were  an  important  and  active  part 
of  the  political  and  social  networks  of  elite  society,  through  which  families  and  individuals 
could  seek  preferment,  grant  patronage,  and  gain  power  locally,  nationally  and  internationally. 
Women  of  the  upper  classes  therefore  needed  to  be  demure  and  persuasive,  dynastic  and 
domestic.  These  concerns  shaped  their  social  identity  - they  were  to  be  both  aristocratic 
and  feminine. 


The  importance  of  both  the  aristocratic  and  the  feminine  shaped  elite  responses  to 
bereavement.  Following  the  death  of  a loved  one,  the  elite  woman  of  the  eighteenth  and 
nineteenth  centuries  was  expected  to  mourn,  and  was  likely  to  grieve.  Mourning  is  a cultural 
rather  than  a psychological  phenomenon,  and  often  reflects  a communal  response  of 
sympathy;  for  the  bereaved,  it  can  act  as  a formalization  of  the  emotive  sorrow  of  grief.12 
Women  of  all  classes  were  especially  associated  with  mourning  and  grief  in  this  period  in  a 
number  of  cultures  across  Western  Europe.  They  often  featured  as  mourners  in  artistic 
representations  of  death,  especially  in  the  late-eighteenth  and  early-nineteenth  centuries, 
and  they  were  increasingly  identified  as  the  mourners  and  grievers  of  society.13  They  were 
believed  to  be  more  prone  to  extreme  grief  than  men,  because  it  was  thought  that  they  lacked 
‘reason’,  and  so  were  unable  to  restrain  their  sorrow.  For  those  who  did  not  need  to  earn  a 
living,  their  roles  as  ‘domestic  women’  meant  that  they  were  often  more  sensitive  to  the 
absence  of  the  deceased  within  the  home  setting,  and  so  were  therefore  likely  to  be  more 
aware  of  the  impact  of  their  loss.  Wealthy  women  had  the  time  to  partake  in  the  lengthy 
mourning  rituals;  unlike  their  husbands,  who  often  needed  to  continue  in  public  life,  wives 
could  pass  their  duties  on  to  their  servants,  and  luxuriate  in  woe. 

While  mourning  was  undertaken  across  the  social  spectrum,  mourning  had  an  important 
ceremonial  significance  for  aristocratic  families,  as  it  could  both  affirm  ties  of  kinship  and 
signify  allegiance.14  There  were  common  patterns  of  behaviour  for  mourning,  although  the 
details  were  often  confused  and  changed  according  to  fashion;  for  example,  when  Queen 
Caroline,  wife  of  George  II,  died  in  1737,  there  was  great  debate  among  the  peers  about  the 
extent  to  which  they  should  go  into  mourning.15  Within  families,  the  length  of  time  for 
mourning  was  also  often  uncertain.  Although  it  was  generally  understood  that  one  should 
withdraw  from  Society  life  for  at  least  a year,  if  not  two,  for  an  immediate  relative  the  length 

11  Reynolds,  Aristocratic  Women , p.  4. 

12  E.  Schor,  Bearing  the  Dead.  The  British  Culture  of  Mourning  from  the  Enlightenment  to  Victoria 
(Princeton,  N.J.,  1994),  pp.  3-4;  A.  Olberding,  ‘Mourning,  memory,  and  identity:  a comparative 
study  of  the  constitution  of  the  self  in  grief’,  International  Philosophical  Quarterly 37  (1997),  29-30. 

13  E.  Hallam  and  J.  Hockey,  Death,  Memory  and  Material  Culture  (Oxford,  2001),  p.  69;  L. 
McCray  Beier,  ‘The  good  death  in  seventeenth  century  England’,  in  Death,  Ritual  and  Bereave- 
ment, ed.  R.  Houlbrooke  (London,  1989),  p.  46. 

14  R.  Trumbach,  The  Rise  of  the  Egalitarian  Family  Aristocratic  Kinship  and  Domestic  Relations  in 
Eighteenth-Century  England  (New  York,  N.Y.,  1978),  p.  34. 

15  Historical  Manuscripts  Commission,  Fifteenth  Report,  Appendix,  Part  6:  the  Manuscripts  of  the 
Earl  of  Carlisle,  formerly  Preserved  at  Castle  Howard , ed.  R.  E.  G.  Kirk  (London,  1897),  p.  190. 



of  time  for  cousins  and  uncles  was  often  confused,  needing  a Mrs  Delany-like  figure  in  each 
family  in  order  to  guide  them.16  Mourning,  therefore,  could  be  a long  and  lonely  affair, 
although  lesser  relations  often  discarded  mourning  dress  for  important  social  occasions.17 
These  official  practices  of  mourning  would  have  had  a significant  impact  on  the  identity  of 
an  individual.  It  was  not  only  possibly  detrimental  to  the  bereaved,  as  a year  or  two  in  black 
limited  the  opportunities  to  be  treated  as  a normal  individual  and  thus  to  accept  their  loss, 
but  it  also  impacted  on  their  public  identity  as  they  were  perceived  as  a mourner,  rather  than 
as  a political  confidant,  hostess,  or  mother.18 

The  nature  of  the  life  of  the  female  aristocrat,  though,  often  meant  that  mourning  did  not 
prevent  their  work  in  forwarding  the  family,  and  was  rarely  enclosing.  Women  often  fell 
pregnant  when  they  traditionally  should  have  been  in  mourning,  especially  if  it  was  a child 
who  had  died,  and  some  remarriages  took  place  during  the  year  of  mourning.  Lady  Mary 
Barbara  Chichester,  for  example,  gave  birth  to  her  son,  Thomas,  ten  months  after  her  first 
child,  Isabella,  died  in  1827;  and  the  second  marriage  of  Henry,  fourth  Earl  of  Carlisle,  took 
place  eleven  months  after  the  death  in  July  1742  of  his  first  wife,  Frances.  Mourning  practices 
did  not  always  make  a significant  impact  on  provincial  life,  as  mourning  was  often  a show  for 
the  Metropolis.  Women  could  therefore  still  entertain  within  the  country  house  setting,  and 
were  still  expected  to  run  the  household  and  family.  Coming  together  as  a family  was  one  of 
the  main  leisure  activities  of  elite  women  in  the  provinces,  and  mourning  did  not  significantly 
alter  this  aspect  of  their  social  life.  Within  collections  of  letters  to  and  from  Yorkshire  elites, 
there  is  a notable  absence  of  evidence  of  the  mourning  practice  of  removing  one’s  self  from 
society  for  years  on  end.  For  example,  the  children  of  Georgiana,  fifth  Duchess  of  Devonshire, 
do  not  appear  to  have  entered  a year  of  seclusion  from  Society  following  her  death  in  1806. 
Her  son  wrote  of  his  plans  for  the  month  of  the  first  anniversary  of  the  death,  noting  that  he 
did  ‘not  intend  to  go  out  on  the  gay  at  all  in  this  mellancholy  month’,  suggesting  that  he  had 
been  ‘on  the  gay’  in  the  previous  weeks.19  Formal  ideals  of  mourning,  if  followed  at  all,  appear 
to  have  been  a simple  addition  to  their  daily  life,  not  worthy  of  comment  and  not  so  restrictive 
that  their  life  was  significantly  altered. 


While  mourning  may  have  had  a limited  impact  on  the  lives  of  elites,  the  effects  of 
bereavement  may  have  greatly  altered  the  roles,  responsibilities  and  identities  of  an  elite 
woman.  The  death  of  a husband  was  the  most  significant  bereavement  in  this  regard:  at 

16  Mary  Delany,  nee  Granville  (1700-88),  was  a well-connected  court  favourite  and  artist  whose 
many  letters  contained  advice  regarding  etiquette,  appropriate  behaviour  and  other  issues  of  social 
decorum,  which  were  relied  upon  by  her  relatives  and  friends.  Trumbach,  Rise  of  the  Egalitarian 
Family , pp.  35-40. 

I7L.  Davidoff,  The  Best  Circles.  Society  and  Etiquette  and  the  Season  (London,  1973),  p.  56.  The 
nature  of  formal  mourning  in  the  eighteenth  century  has  not  been  subject  to  a wide  ranging  survey, 
and  so  the  common  practices  have  not  been  clearly  defined.  By  the  nineteenth  century  a mourning 
period  of  two  years  was  expected  for  a spouse,  and  one  year  following  the  death  of  a parent  or  a 
child.  R Jalland,  ‘Death,  grief,  and  mourning  in  the  upper-class  family,  1860-1914’,  in  Death,  Ritual 
and  Bereavement , ed.  R.  Houlbrooke  (London,  1989),  p.  183. 

ltt  D.  Cannadine,  ‘War  and  death,  grief  and  mourning  in  modern  Britain’,  in  Mirrors  of  Mortality 
Studies  in  the  Social  History  of  Death,  ed.J.  Whaley  (London,  1981),  p.  190. 

19  Devonshire  MSS,  Letters  of  the  fifth  Duke  of  Devonshire,  1926,  Lord  Hartington  to  Georgiana 
Morpeth,  20  March  1807. 



widowhood  a woman  may  have  gained  independence  and  been  enabled  to  control  her  own 
income  assured  by  the  terms  of  her  marriage  settlement.20  However,  for  those  who  enjoyed 
a close  and  happy  relationship  with  their  late  spouse  and  had  enjoyed  free  access  to  ‘his’ 
money,  this  was  little  comfort,  especially  if  she  had  to  leave  her  home  to  make  space  for  the 
new  Lord  (usually  her  son)  and  his  family.  These  potential  problems,  though,  could  be 
negotiated  if  there  were  an  affectionate  family  circle  to  support  the  bereaved.  The  case  of 
Lady  Anne  Irwin  (1697-1764)  reflects  the  importance  of  a supportive  family  for  a widow, 
and  the  significant  changes  that  could  be  brought  about  by  the  death  of  a spouse.  Anne  was 
the  second  daughter  of  Charles,  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  builder  of  Castle  Howard,  near 
Malton,  in  the  North  Riding.  The  building  reflected  Charles’s  ambitions  for  himself  and  for 
the  Carlisle  name.  It  was  designed  to  be  an  impressive  edifice  to  which  he  could  bring  and 
then  entertain  the  most  powerful  and  influential  people  in  England  in  order  to  assert  and 
improve  his  own  status.21  His  ambitions  spread  to  Anne  and  his  other  daughters,  whom  he 
wished  to  be  successful  allies  in  his  plans  to  enhance  the  position  of  the  Carlisles.  Political 
networking,  holding  positions  in  Court,  and  forming  friendships  with  other  influential 
aristocrats  were  all  ways  in  which  elite  women  could  work  towards  supporting  the  future 
plans  of  an  aristocratic  family.  For  many,  though,  their  strongest  suit  in  forming  enduring 
relationships  was  in  their  choice  of  spouse;  it  was  by  marriage  that  women  could  introduce 
into  a family  close  and  secure  allies.  When  Castle  Howard  was  being  decorated  Carlisle 
arranged  for  the  artist  Antonio  Pellegrini  to  paint  a large  portrait  of  Anne  and  her  sisters, 
Mary  and  Elizabeth.  The  three  are  portrayed  identically,  and  the  differences  in  their 
personalities  and  ages  were  not  alluded  to.  They  were  aged  between  eleven  and  seventeen 
years  at  the  time  of  painting,  but  all  are  portrayed  as  though  they  were  just  on  the  cusp  of 
maturity.22  By  presenting  his  daughters  as  identikit  ideal  young  women,  singing  and  playing 
music,  Carlisle  appears  to  be  creating  an  advertisement  for  their  marriageablity  while  stressing 
that  even  if  one  were  taken,  one  of  the  others  would  prove  to  be  a perfect  replacement. 

In  spite  of  Carlisle’s  high  hopes,  Anne  and  her  sisters  did  not  provide  him  with  Dukes  and 
Earls  for  sons-in-law.  Mary  did  not  marry  at  all,  which  Sarah,  Duchess  of  Marlborough, 

20  For  a discussion  of  the  financial  status  of  widows  see:  S.  Staves,  Married  Women’s  Separate 
Property  in  England,  1660- 1833  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1990).  Other  texts  of  interest  include:  I.  Blom. 
‘The  history  of  widowhood  - a bibliographic  overview’. Journal  of  Family  History  16  (1991),  191-210; 
essays  in  L.  Botelho  and  P.  Thane  (eds.)  Women  and  Ageing  in  British  Society  Since  1500.  (London, 
2001);  M.  Froide,  ‘Marital  status  as  a category  of  difference.  Singlewomen  and  widows  in  early 
modern  England’,  Singlewomen  in  the  European  Past,  1250-1800,  ed.  J.  M.  Bennett  and  A.  M. 
Froide  (Philadelphia,  Pa.,  1999),  pp.  236-69;  O.  Hufton.  ‘Women  without  men:  widows  and  spin- 
sters in  Britain  and  France  in  the  eighteenth  century’  .Journal  of  Family  History  9 (1984),  355-76; 
M.  Palazzi,  ‘Female  solitude  and  patrilineage:  unmarried  women  and  widows  during  the  eighteenth 
and  nineteenth  centuries’,  Journal  of  Family  History  15  (1990),  443-460. 

21  The  most  complete  survey  of  the  architectural  history  of  Castle  Howard  is  C.  Saumarez  Smith, 
The  Building  of  Castle  Howard  (London,  1990),  based  on  his  unpublished  thesis,  ‘Charles  Howard, 
third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  and  the  architecture  of  Castle  Howard’,  PhD  Thesis,  University  of  London, 
Warburg  Institute,  1987.  See  also  K.  Dowes,  Sir John  Vanbrugh.  A Biography  (London,  1987),  p.  197. 
For  a discussion  of  Vanbrugh’s  role  in  design  landscapes  see  the  essays  in  C.  Ridgway  and  R. 
Williams  (eds.),  Sir  John  Vanbrugh  and  Landscape  Architecture  in  Baroque  England  1690-1730 
(Stroud,  2000).  For  a history  of  the  family  see  the  various  guidebooks  and  V.  Murray,  Castle  Howard: 
the  Life  and  Times  of  A Stately  Home  (London,  1994). 

22  The  portrait  was  painted  between  1709-1712;  Saumarez  Smith,  The  Building  of  Castle  Howard, 
pp.  94-104. 



blamed  on  the  small  dowry  provided  by  Carlisle,  but  Mary’s  tendency  toward,  and  enjoyment 
of,  ill  health  could  not  have  helped  either.23  Elizabeth  was  eighteen  when  she  married  Nicholas, 
Baron  Lechmere  in  1719,  which  was  not  welcomed  by  Carlisle.  When  her  father  told  Elizabeth 
that  he  disapproved  of  the  match,  she  reminded  him  that  he  had  given  her  ‘liberty  to  doe  [sic] 
as  I pleased,  and  if  my  Grandmother  would  act  in  it,  you  should  not  be  disobliged’.24  She 
worked  to  gain  her  grandmother’s  acceptance  and  so  her  father  eventually  consented  to  the 
marriage;  she  was  granted  a portion  of  £6,000  and  a yearly  £800  for  her  jointure.25  This 
marriage  was  very  unhappy,  though.  Nicholas  Lechmere  was  described  by  his  nephew  as  ‘an 
excellent  lawyer,  but  violent  and  overbearing’,  and  so  Elizabeth  appears  to  have  taken  to 
gambling  and  drink  as  a way  of  escaping  her  daily  life.26  In  February  1726  she  deliberately 
took  a large  dose  of  laudanum,  but  failed  to  kill  herself;  Lady  Mary  Wortley  Montagu  wrote: 
‘after  having  played  away  her  reputation  and  fortune,  she  has  poisoned  herself.  This  is  the 
effect  of  prudence!’2'  It  was  Nicholas’  death  that  ended  the  marriage,  dying  after  a fit  of 
‘apoplexy’  at  his  London  residence,  Campden  House,  Kensington,  on  18  June  1727.28 

It  was  therefore  Anne  who  offered  Carlisle  the  greatest  hope  by  marrying  in  1718  Rich 
Ingram  (1688-1721)  who  in  1714  had  become  the  fifth  Viscount  Irwin,  inheriting  the  title 
and  the  Temple  Newsam  estate  from  his  unmarried  elder  brother.  While  Rich  was  not  the 
most  influential  of  potential  suitors  for  Anne,  with  estates  in  Yorkshire,  familial  control  of 
the  Parliamentary  seat  of  Horsham,  Sussex,  and  ownership  of  a regiment,  the  match  had 
some  dynastic  potential  for  Carlisle.  While  Rich  and  Anne’s  marriage  appears  to  have  been 
a happy  one,  on  a practical  level,  they  did  not  enjoy  great  fortune.  He  had  invested  in  the 
‘cruel  South  Sea’,  paying  £40,000  for  £10,000  worth  of  stock  that  was  never  recovered.29 
The  Irwins  had  been  indebted  for  some  time  and  this  loss  was  too  much  for  their  weak 
fortune  to  bear.  Rich  and  Anne  considered  leaving  the  country  for  Barbados  where  he  had 
been  offered  the  Governorship,  which  was  worth  £5,000  a year.  This  was  a move  which 
Anne  did  not  desire,  as  she  did  not  want  to  lose  contact  with  her  family,  but  was  willing  to 
accept  as  part  of  her  duty  as  a wife,  and  to  enable  her  to  fulfil  her  roles  as  Viscountess  Irwin.30 
However  Anne’s  plans  for  a new  life  in  the  West  Indies  were  put  on  hold  when  Rich  contracted 
small  pox  in  April  1721  and  died.  Flis  death  put  Anne  into  a position  of  great  distress, 

23  G.  Scott  Thomson  (ed.),  Letters  of  a Grandmother  1732-35.  Being  the  Correspondence  of  Sarah, 
Duchess  of  Marlborough  with  her  granddaughter  Diana,  Duchess  of  Bedford  (London,  1943),  p.  58. 

24  Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/308,  Elizabeth  Howard  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  n.d.  It  is  not  clear  why  her 
grandmother  was  given  such  an  important  say  in  this  event,  but  it  may  be  that  she  acted  in  a 
maternal  role  after  Charles’s  wife  left  him. 

2j  Carlisle  MSS,  A5/52,  Articles  on  the  marriage  of  the  Rt.  Hon.  Nicholas  Lechmere  Esq.,  with  the 
Rt.  Hon.  Elizabeth  Howard,  11  April  1719. 

26  DNB  entry  for  Nicholas  Lechmere;  Saumarez  Smith,  The  Building  of  Castle  Howard,  pp.  186-7. 

27  M.  W.  Montagu,  The  Complete  Letters  of  Lady  Mary  Wortley  Montagu,  ed.  R.  Halsband,  3 vols 
(Oxford,  1965-7)  ii,  p.  58. 

2H  A.  A.  Hanham,  ‘Lechmere,  Nicholas,  Baron  Lechmere  (1675-1727)’,  Oxford  Dictionary  of  Na- 
tional Biography , Oxford  University  Press,  2004.  After  Lord  Lechmere’s  death  she  married  again, 
Sir  Thomas  Robinson,  the  second  architect  of  Castle  Howard,  who  was  very  controlling  of  his  wife. 

29  Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/124,  Mary  Howard  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  21  February  [1721], 

30  Historical  Manuscripts  Commission,  Fifteenth  Report,  Appendix,  Part  6:  the  Manuscripts  of  the 
Earl  of  Carlisle,  formerly  Preserved  at  Castle  Howard,  Ed.  R.E.G.  Kirk  (London,  1897),  p.  25; 
Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/169,  Anne  Irwin  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  17  November  1720. 



emotionally,  financially  and  practically.  She  wrote  to  her  father: 

Your  Lordship  knew  my  happiness  in  the  dear  man  thats  gone  that  you  won’t  wonder  to  hear  Line 
in  sincere  affliction  for  him  ...  time  can  only  make  me  easie  [but]  at  present  I’me  so  unhappy  all  the 
views  I have  in  this  world  are  very  melancholy  [sic].31 

Anne’s  reflections  on  her  affection  for  her  husband  show  how  she  felt  personally  bereaved 
at  his  death.  They  had  no  children  and  had  been  married  less  than  three  years;  she  was  not 
expecting  to  become  a widow  yet  and  had  not  had  the  opportunity  to  fulfil  many  of  her  roles 
as  an  elite  wife.  Her  natal  family  were  greatly  concerned  for  her  well-being  after  the  death, 
and  they  came  to  support  her  both  in  the  immediate  aftermath  of  her  loss,  and  in  the  later 
years,  reflecting  the  supportive  nature  of  many  elite  families.  She  was  described  as  ‘the 
picture  of  sorrow’  by  her  sister  Mary  who  sat  with  her  all  day,  every  day,  during  the  month 
following  her  bereavement.32  Although  she  was  physically  healthy,  she  suffered  greatly  from 
her  loss,  feeling  ‘so  dejected  and  mallencholly  [sic]  that  we  sometimes  sit  a whole  day  together 
without  her  speaking  or  caring  to  be  spoken  too’.33 

Along  with  her  grief  came  financial  worries.  The  indebted  Rich  had  left  neither  a will  nor 
much  readily  accessible  money;  she  used  what  she  had  to  pay  servants  and  her  immediate 
bills  and  still  she  faced  requests  from  family  and  friends  for  payments  of  outstanding  debts, 
mainly  gambling  dues  and  other  loans.  In  the  days  following  the  death  she  had  received  a 
thousand  pounds  from  the  Crown,  part  of  the  £7000  that  was  due  to  her  as  Rich  had  bought 
a regiment.  However,  this  money  was  quickly  spent  and  Anne  had  no  money  left  to  cover  her 
own  expenses,  even  the  cost  of  travel  back  to  her  father’s  home  at  Castle  Howard.34  Those 
who  were  owed  money  were  keen  to  have  it  repaid  swiftly,  as  they  feared  they  would  never 
get  anything  back  if  they  had  to  wait  for  the  estate  to  be  settled.  Anne  was  now  one  of  three 
dowager  Viscountess  Irwin  alive  in  the  1720s,  and,  in  the  eyes  of  the  Ingram  family,  probably 
the  least  important.  Rich’s  mother,  Isabella,  the  dowager  Viscountess  Irwin  (c.  1670-1764) 
was  made  executor  of  the  estate,  as  she  had  been  for  her  elder  son,  the  fourth  Viscount. 35 
The  estate  was  already  heavily  mortgaged  when  Rich  inherited  it,  and  so  his  gambling  debts 
and  bad  investments  had  placed  the  finances  under  a real  strain.  Isabella  needed  to  identify 
everything  that  belonged  to  the  estate,  so  that  she  could  assess  and  tiy  to  remedy  the  financial 
situation.  However,  Anne  had  taken  items  from  Temple  Newsam  that  she  believed  were  hers 
but  Isabella  claimed  to  be  part  of  the  estate.36  Isabella  also  pressed  the  Carlisle  family  hard  to 
pay  money  that  was  due  to  the  Irwin  estate  as  part  of  Anne’s  marriage  settlement,  a problem 
that  was  not  resolved  for  many  years.  Anne  fought  staunchly  against  Isabella’s  requests, 
demanding  to  keep  various  items,  at  least  for  her  lifetime,  and  ensuring  that  the  Carlisles 
were  not  financially  affected  by  Rich’s  death.  While  Rich  was  alive  the  relationship  between 

31  Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/127,  Mary  Howard  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  London,  13  April  [1721]; 
Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/128,  Mary  Howard  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  London,  23  April  [1721]. 

32  Ibid. 

33  Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/128,  Mary  Howard  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  London,  23  April  [1721]. 

34  Ibid 

35  The  other  dowager  Viscountess  was  Elizabeth,  Isabella’s  sister-in-law,  and  wife  of  the  second 
Viscount  Irwin.  Her  child  had  died  young,  and  she  too  was  seen  as  an  expensive  drain  that  the 
family  could  ill  afford.  All  three  dowagers  lived  to  over  65  years  of  age. 

36  She  eventually  returned  or  paid  for  most  items,  although  she  kept  a portrait  of  Rich  for  her 
lifetime.  WYAS,  Leeds,  TN/C/13/37,  R.  Hopkinson  to  Isabella  Irwin,  29  January  1723/4. 



the  two  Lady  Irwins  was  difficult.  When  Isabella  was  encouraged  by  her  steward  to  make 
peace  with  Rich  and  Anne,  she  dismissed  his  request  as  ‘friendly  advice  to  give  up  my  just 
wit  to  an  ungrateful  son,  wholly  governed  by  the  proud  family  of  the  Howards  who  have 
never  served  anybody  but  for  their  own  interest’.37  His  death  meant  that  the  only  thing  which 
united  them  had  been  removed.  Anne  and  Isabella,  two  widows,  came  into  direct  conflict 
and  were  shown  to  have  a great  deal  of  power  to  manage  the  negotiations  in  order  to  get  what 
they  and  their  families  wanted.  However,  without  children  of  her  own,  Anne  lacked  a 
distinctive  ‘use’  to  the  family  - she  was  merely  a financial  drain.  Her  in-laws  were  therefore 
able  to  reject  her  and  her  wishes,  and  act  with  sole  concern  for  the  Irwin  family  future. 

Anne  had  not  only  experienced  the  death  of  her  husband,  but  also  the  death  of  her  future. 
Her  plans  for  a life  as  Viscountess  Irwin,  chatelaine  of  Temple  Newsam,  and  the  mother  to 
the  next  Lord  Irwin  had  been  taken  away,  and  she  was  now,  in  effect,  a single  woman  again. 
With  the  death  of  Rich,  Anne  not  only  lost  a significant  part  of  her  own  identity,  but  also  her 
place  within  the  dynastic  plans  of  the  Irwin  family.  She  was  forced  to  return  to  her  natal 
family,  who  supported  her  in  her  grief,  and  continued  to  do  so  in  her  widowhood  and  with 
her  problems  with  Isabella.  Anne  appears  to  have  had  limited  contact  with  the  Ingrams  after 
1721,  with  the  exception  of  Charles,  Rich’s  younger  brother  who  had  been  part  of  Anne’s 
letter  writing  circle  during  her  marriage  and  later  helped  her  in  planning  her  second  marriage 
in  1737. 38  Anne  was  an  Irwin  only  in  name  after  her  widowhood;  she  was  in  practice  a 
Howard  again,  and  it  was  their  concerns  which  were  at  the  heart  of  her  later  career  in  the 
Royal  Court.39 

Anne’s  negative  experiences  following  her  bereavement  were  more  marked  and  harsh 
than  those  faced  by  most  women  following  the  death  of  a spouse.  For  many,  especially  those 
who  were  mothers,  their  new  identity  as  dowager  could  be  more  positive.  Georgiana,  sixth 
Countess  of  Carlisle  (1783-1858)  continued  to  reside  at  Castle  Howard  following  the  death 
of  her  husband  in  1848.  Their  eldest  son  George,  now  the  seventh  Earl  of  Carlisle,  was 
unmarried  and  in  terms  of  her  official  functions  within  Castle  Howard,  Georgiana  continued 
as  chatelaine.  George  wrote  of  their  partnership  as  being  like  a successful  marriage,  and 
while  Georgiana’s  declining  health  meant  she  did  not  play  as  active  a role  in  society  as  she 
once  had  as  Countess,  her  status  and  domestic  identity  were  not  altered  by  the  death  of  her 
husband.40  Women  could  be  positively  empowered  by  their  position  as  widow.  Frances,  the 
ninth  Viscountess  Irwin  (1734-1807)  was  widowed  in  1778,  and  as  part  of  her  marriage 
settlement,  she  inherited  a life  interest  in  Temple  Newsam  before  it  passed  on  to  her  daughters; 
she  and  her  husband,  Charles,  had  no  sons.41  As  the  wealthy  illegitimate  daughter  and  heiress 
of  Samuel  Shepherd  M.P.,  Frances  had  brought  a great  deal  of  wealth  into  the  Ingram  family 
and  had  been  able  to  repay  their  mortgages  and  other  debts.  Therefore,  once  in  control  of 
the  house  and  estate  in  her  own  right,  she  was  not  hindered  by  any  financial  concerns.  She 

37  WYAS,  Leeds,  Pawson  MSS,  Ac  1038,  Volume  9 (January  1717-December  1747),  Robert  Hopkinson 
to  Isabella  Irwin,  13  December  1718. 

38  Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/284,  Anne  Irwin  to  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  7 June  [1737]. 

39  E.g.  Carlisle  MSS,  J8/1/257,  Anne  Irwin  to  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle,  3 April,  n.y.;  HMC, 
Fifteenth  Report,  the  Manuscripts  of  the  Earl  of  Carlisle,  pp.  165-92. 

40  Carlisle  MSS,  J 18/3,  Seventh  Earl’s  correspondence  with  his  mother;  19  February  1855  and  30 
December  1852. 

41  WYAS  Leeds,  TN/F/18/2,  Marriage  Settlement  between  Charles  and  Frances  Irwin. 



radically  redesigned  Temple  Newsam  in  order  to  accommodate  her  family  and  their  needs. 
The  changes  that  she  made  included  both  practical  improvements  and  embellishments  for 
the  purpose  of  display.  While  her  husband  was  alive  she  had  made  the  Tudor  interiors  more 
fashionable,  redecorating,  for  example,  her  bedroom  with  Gothic  style  ‘pillar  and  arch’ 
wallpaper.  She  also  employed  Capability  Brown  to  landscape  the  park,  thereby  reasserting 
the  public  face  of  the  house  and  promoting  the  family  as  fashionable,  wealthy  and  influential 
members  of  the  Yorkshire  elite.42  After  her  husband’s  death,  her  work  continued.  She 
demolished  most  of  the  south  wing,  which  featured  an  old,  medieval-style  hall  and  kitchens, 
and  rebuilt  it  with  a series  of  reception  rooms,  dressing  rooms  and,  most  importantly, 
bedrooms  for  her  five  daughters.43  She  wrote: 

I amuse  myself  wonderfully  and  I may  say  prodigiously  for  I have  attacked  a huge  wing  of 
Templenewsam  [sic]  - have  pulled  down  walls  as  thick  as  the  Tower  for  the  sole  pleasure  of  building 
them  up  again  and  here  I am  now  in  the  midst  of  desolation  created  by  my  own  nonsensical  self.14 

She  was  free  to  change  the  house  and  its  environment  as  she  wished;  she  did  not  have  to  gain 
permission  from  a husband  but  could  knock  down  the  walls  of  her  home  for  pleasure. 
Frances  was  not  simply  a figurehead  for  the  building  work  but  took  an  active  role  in  the 
decisions  and  appears  to  have  managed  the  building  accounts  herself.43  Her  work  at  Temple 
Newsam  was  centred  on  making  the  house  a home,  a comfortable,  domestic  location,  ideal 
for  raising  her  five  daughters.  However,  she  was  also  aware  of  the  dynastic  role  of  the  house, 
as  a symbol  of  the  family  name.  She  appreciated  the  importance  of  a fashionable  house  and 
landscape  in  reflecting  her  own  status  in  local  and  national  society,  and  by  reshaping  her 
home  into  a modern  stately  home  she  was  able  to  raise  and  refashion  both  its  and  her  own 

However,  it  was  her  political  identity  that  was  most  strengthened  by  her  widowhood. 
Frances  was  concerned  that  the  ‘family  interest’  was  maintained  during  both  her  marriage 
and  her  widowhood,  taking  a keen  interest  in  politics,  especially  at  the  family  seat  of  Horsham, 
Sussex.46  She  fought  to  keep  direction  of  votes  in  the  borough  when  the  eleventh  Duke  of 
Norfolk  threatened  her  control  of  the  seat  after  Charles  had  died.  Although  Norfolk  had 
both  influence  and  wealth,  spending  £70,000  on  the  borough,  it  is  a testament  to  Frances’s 
determination  and  petitioning  skills  that  he  had  to  use  corrupt  means  to  win  the  elections. 
However,  she  successfully  appealed  against  the  results,  and  had  her  candidates  seated  in 
both  the  1790  and  1806  contests  against  Norfolk.  He  gained  control  of  the  borough  only 
after  her  death  when  he  bought  the  Irwin  interest  for  the  record  sum  of  £91,475.4/  Her 
determination  to  keep  part  of  the  family’s  dynastic  influence  in  their  control  reflects  how 

42  Unattributed,  Temple  Newsam  (Leeds,  1999),  p.  14 

43  A.  Wells-Cole,  ‘The  Terrace  Room  at  Temple  Newsam’,  in  Leeds  Art  Calendar  108  (1991),  pp.  15- 
16.  See  also  A.  Budge,  ‘Temple  Newsam  and  “the  Good  Shepheard’s”’,  in  Leeds  Art  Calendar  98 
(1986),  8-15. 

44  PRO  30/29/4/2/54,  Frances  Shepheard  to  Lady  Stafford,  14  June  1795. 

45  WYAS,  Leeds,  TN/EA/13/70,  Building  Account  for  Temple  Newsam,  1795-1803. 

46  The  history  of  the  Ingram  family  in  Horsham  is  the  subject  of  A.  F.  Hughes  and  K.  Knight,  Hills. 
Horsham ’s  Lost  Stately  Home  and  Garden  (Horsham,  1999). 

47  E.  Chalus,  ‘Women,  electoral  privilege  and  practice  in  the  eighteenth  century’,  in  Women  in 
British  Politics,  1760-1860 : The  Power  of  the  Petticoat,  ed.  K.  Gleadle  and  S.  Richardson  (London, 
2000),  pp.  28-9. 



important  issues  of  inheritance  and  maintaining  political  power  were  to  such  women,  and 
her  willingness  to  be  seen  as  the  political  figurehead  of  the  family.  In  her  wider  political  and 
social  positions,  widowhood  had  empowered  Frances  and  enabled  her  to  work  openly  in 
political  and  architectural  roles  that  she  would  have  previously  shared  with  her  husband. 


It  was  not  only  the  death  of  a spouse  that  could  have  a significant  impact  on  the  identity  of 
the  living,  but  of  other  relatives  too.  People  grieved  not  only  for  the  individual  lost,  but  also 
for  their  plans  with  that  person,  and  this  is  an  important  consideration  when  studying 
aristocratic  families,  particularly  in  relation  to  an  untimely  death  of  an  heir.  When  the  eldest 
son  of  the  fourth  Earl  of  Carlisle  fell  ill  in  1741,  his  family  were  greatly  concerned,  and  hoped 
for  improvement,  as  ‘his  life  [is]  most  essential  to  your  happiness  and  my  Ladies  and  the 
support  and  credit  of  our  family’.48  The  use  of  the  term  ‘credit’  reflects  the  inherent  value  of 
having  a viable  heir,  not  just  in  terms  of  the  image  of  the  family  but  also  their  worth.  His 
death  later  that  year  was  therefore  considered  a real  tragedy  for  the  Howard  family,  and  the 
family  mourned  together.  Charles,  Lord  Morpeth,  had  been  groomed  for  the  Earldom,  and 
his  potential  had  been  cut  short  through  his  early  death.  Like  the  death  of  a husband  early  in 
a marriage,  so  the  death  of  an  heir  represented  lost  opportunities  and  unfulfilled  plans.  The 
loss  of  an  heir  could  herald  the  death  of  the  dynasty  too,  a demise  more  significant  than  that 
of  an  individual,  but  the  end  of  an  ideal  that  had  been  nurtured  and  shaped  for  many  years. 

There  was  often  a shared  sense  of  grief,  and  so  friends  and  family  provided  comfort  to  the 
bereaved,  giving  them  the  opportunity  to  stress  their  links  with  the  family  and  present  a joint 
dynastic  identity.  When  Caroline,  fifth  Countess  of  Carlisle,  died  in  1824  her  husband  was 
anxious  to  have  his  family  near  to  him,  requesting  that  those  children  who  were  away  from 
Castle  Howard  returned  to  their  childhood  home.49  Families  could  offer  practical  support  to 
one  another,  which  was  especially  useful  to  women  who  may  have  lost  their  home  and  were 
in  need  of  support  looking  after  their  children.  Following  the  death  of  Sir  Charles  Chichester 
in  1847,  his  sister  invited  the  widow  to  be  with  her  family  at  Burton  Constable  so  that  they 
could  ‘do  all  we  can  to  try  and  make  you  feel  less  acutely  your  sorrow’.50  Women  often  played 
a leading  role  in  offering  assistance.  Lady  Caroline  Lascelles,  for  example,  looked  after  her 
brother  Charles  Howard  in  1843  after  his  wife  died  in  childbirth;  the  child  went  into  the 
care  of  his  maternal  grandparents.51  However,  it  may  have  been  family  friends  who  provided 
comfort  from  afar.  Ralph  Sneyd,  for  example,  wrote  that  he  was  happy  to  listen  to  Lady 
Georgiana  Dover’s  sorrows  following  the  death  of  her  husband,  George,  in  1833;  George 
and  Ralph  had  been  friends  for  many  years.52  Friends  and  family  could  share  in  the  community 
of  grief,  and  support  those  in  need. 

48  Carlisle  MSS,  J12/1/51,  Anne  Irwin,  Kew,  to  Henry  Howard,  fourth  Earl  of  Carlisle,  27  June 

49  Devonshire  MSS,  Letters  of  the  sixth  Duke  of  Devonshire,  904,  Georgiana  Morpeth  to  sixth  Duke 
of  Devonshire,  29  January  1824 

50  Brynmor  Jones  Library,  Charles  Chichester  MSS,  DDCH/55,  Letters  of  condolence  following  Sir 
Charles  Chichester’s  death,  Marianne  Clifford  Constable  to  Mary  Chichester,  14  May  1847. 

51  Northumberland  Record  Office,  Ridley  Mss,  ZRI/31/30,  Georgiana  Carlisle,  Castle  Howard,  to 
Lady  Parke,  30  August  1843. 

52  Keele  University  Library,  Sneyd  MSS,  SC9/247,  Mr  Ralph  Sneyd  to  Georgiana  Dover,  n.d. 



The  importance  of  support  at  times  of  crisis  is  reflected  in  the  contents  of  condolence 
letters,  many  of  which  offered  practical  advice,  expressed  religious  ideas  as  a form  of  comfort, 
and  contained  personal  expressions  of  sorrow.  Pat  Jalland  has  argued  that  the  condolence 
letter  was  an  important  source  of  strength  to  the  grieving  family  in  the  nineteenth  century,  as 
it  offered  both  practical  and  emotional  assistance,  and  ensured  that  the  bereaved  did  not  feel 
alone.53  The  letters  also  provided  a way  for  elites  to  become  an  active  part  of  the  culture  of 
mourning  and  to  express  their  allegiance  with  the  bereaved.  While  non-related  peers  were 
expected  to  go  into  mourning  after  the  death  of  a member  of  the  Royal  family,  it  was  usual  for 
only  the  family  to  wear  full  mourning  dress  following  the  death  of  an  aristocrat.  Friends  and 
acquaintances  therefore  needed  to  find  other  ways  of  expressing  their  (real  or  tactical) 
sadness  at  the  loss  and  of  reasserting  their  linking  with  a family  in  mourning.  Condolence 
letters  were  often  formal  and  followed  widely  accepted  conventions.  They  usually  focused 
on  the  bereaved  rather  than  the  deceased,  containing  phrases  such  as  ‘I  can  find  no  words  to 
express  to  you  what  I feel  for  you’.54  For  example,  in  1715,  Anthoinette  Coyer  heard  erroneous 
reports  that  Rich  Irwin  had  died  in  battle,  and  wrote  to  Rich’s  mother  to  ‘express  my  heart 
breaking  sorrow  for  the  death  of  your  honourable  son’.55  Consolatory  writings  also  often 
used  the  language  of  religion,  especially  from  the  Bible,  and  tried  to  offer  comfort  by  alluding 
to  the  vulnerability  of  life.  Popular  biblical  sources  included  St.  Paul,  Revelation,  Job  or 
Timothy,  giving  the  writer  a template  for  acceptable  and  managed  sentiments.56  For  those 
who  had  a strong  faith,  the  letters  focused  on  a shared  faith  in  the  lasting  support  of  God  as 
a way  of  providing  comfort  to  the  grieving,  a practice  which  was  by  no  means  exclusive  to 
the  aristocracy.  This  was  especially  prevalent  in  Roman  Catholic  families,  such  as  the 
Constables  of  Burton  Constable.  Following  the  death  of  Eliza  Chichester  in  1859,  her  sister, 
Lady  Marianne  Clifford  Constable,  received  many  supportive  letters  that  used  powerful 
religious  imagery.  Their  cousin,  Mary  Lucy,  a nun,  reminded  Marianne  that  while:  ‘it  is  not 
in  the  power  of  human  consent  to  assuage  such  grief  as  yours  ...  thank  God  we  have  a higher  source 
to  draw  from  for  consolation  in  the  very  bitterest  sorrow.’57  By  sending  out  these  letters,  elites 
were  restating  their  alliance  with  a family,  on  personal,  social,  dynastic  and/or  political 
levels,  and  maintaining  their  own  elite  identity. 

These  ties  could  also  be  reaffirmed  through  the  owning  and  wearing  of  mourning  jewellery.58 
Unlike  full  mourning  dress,  jewellery  could  be  worn  by  wider  family  and  friends  as  a way  of 
publicly  asserting  private  sorrow,  or  stating  public  alliances.  As  well  as  jewellery  owned  by 
the  deceased,  items  were  specially  made  to  commemorate  their  death,  and  both  were 
exchanged  and  worn  in  the  period  of  mourning  as  well  as  becoming  lasting  forms  of  memorial. 

53  Jalland,  ‘Death,  grief,  and  mourning’,  p.  181. 

54  For  example,  Brynmor  Jones  Library,  Charles  Chichester  MSS,  DDCH/55,  Letters  of  condolence 
following  Sir  Charles  Chichester’s  death,  Marianne  Clifford  Constable  to  Mary  Chichester,  14  May 

55  WYAS,  Leeds,  TN/C/12,  Letters  to  Rich,  Anthoinette  Coyer  to  Isabella  Irwin,  20  March  1714/5. 

56  For  a discussion  of  consolatory  writings  see  A.  Carrdus,  ‘Consolation  arguments  and  maternal 
grief  in  seventeenth-century  verse  - the  example  of  Margarethe  Susanna  Von  Kuntsch’,  German 
Life  and  Letters  47  (1994),  esp.  135-7. 

57  East  Riding  of  Yorkshire  Archive  and  Record  Service,  Beverley  [hereafter  ERYARS],  DDCC/144/ 
33,  Letters  to  Marianne  Clifford  Constable,  Mary  Lucy  Clifford  de  S.S.  Sacramento  to  Lady 
Clifford  Constable,  1 November  1859. 

58  For  mourning  jewellery  see  A.  L.  Luthi,  Sentimental Jewellery:  Antique Jewels  of  Love  and  Sorrow 
(Princes  Risborough,  1998). 



Funerary  jewellery  had  become  increasingly  popular  between  the  seventeenth  and  nineteenth 
centuries,  and  during  this  period,  its  purpose  changed.  The  memento  mori,  which  reminded 
one  to  be  fearful  of  death,  became  increasingly  unfashionable.  Instead  jewellery  increasingly 
remembered  the  dead;  it  was  now  memento  illius,  and  could  act  as  a ‘vehicle  of  memory’.59 
The  inclusion  of  the  hair  of  the  deceased  within  later  eighteenth-century  jewellery  meant 
that  the  item  acted  as  a ‘substitute  for  the  body’;  hair,  which  during  the  life  of  a person  is 
often  considered  dead,  was  considered  to  come  alive  after  their  death.60  In  the  nineteenth 
century  hair  was  believed  to  escape  death,  as  the  most  ‘delicate  and  lasting  of  our  materials 
and  survives  us  like  love’.61  Jewellery  and  miniatures  were  not  just  simple  objects.  They  had 
strong  emotions,  such  as  memory,  reverence  and  awe,  ‘super-added’  to  them,  and  thus  became 
powerful  symbols  of  grief.62 

In  some  cases,  the  wearing  of  this  jewellery  could  assert  an  elite  woman’s  identity.  The 
wearing  of  a miniature  of  a deceased  child,  for  example,  meant  that  the  wearer  was  stating 
her  relationship  to  the  child  and  her  role  as  a parent,  grandparent  or  sibling.  The  miniature 
of  the  two  Lascelles  boys,  Algernon  and  Alfred,  sons  of  the  third  Earl  and  Countess  of 
Harewood,  appears  to  have  been  in  use  after  their  death  in  1845,  as  the  dates  of  their  birth 
and  death  were  engraved  on  the  back  of  the  piece;  its  survival  indicates  its  importance  as  the 
last  image  of  the  boys.  The  wearing  of  a miniature  could  be  a powerful  statement  if  the  death 
of  the  individual  depicted  had  caused  a shift  of  familial  alliances;  jewellery  allowed  people  to 
align  themselves  with  the  dead.  Following  the  death  of  Georgiana,  the  fifth  Duchess  of 
Devonshire  in  1806,  her  widowed  husband  swiftly  married  his  long  term  mistress,  Lady 
Elizabeth  Foster,  who  had  not  only  borne  him  children  while  his  wife  was  alive,  but  had 
shared  their  family  home,  wife,  husband  and  mistress  together.  Georgiana’s  children  were 
not  welcoming  of  the  public  formalization  of  this  relationship,  as  they  were  devoted  to  their 
mother,  and  wanted  to  protect  her  status.  However,  they  were  reluctant  to  snub  openly  their 
father,  whom  they  seem  to  have  respected;  it  was  Elizabeth  whom  they  disliked.  So,  they 
expressed  their  continued  support  of  their  deceased  mother  in  subtle  and  nuanced  ways. 
The  eldest  child,  Georgiana,  later  sixth  Countess  of  Carlisle,  had  acquired  her  mother’s  ring 
following  her  death,  and  was  reluctant  to  part  with  it:  ‘I  would  not  exchange  mine  for  any  - she 
wore  it  till  her  Death  and  I feel  that  I shall  till  mine’.61  Also,  among  the  collection  of  paintings  at 
Chatsworth  is  one  of  Georgiana  holding  a miniature  of  her  deceased  mother.64  She  was 
portrayed  as  the  loyal  daughter,  with  such  a strong  devotion  to  her  mother  that  she  wanted 
to  emphasize  by  providing  a lasting  image  of  her  grief.  The  commissioning  of  the  portrait 
expresses  her  strong  desire  to  mark  her  individual  and  continued  remembrance  of  her 
mother,  and  to  ensure  that  all  knew  she  had  not  and  would  not  forget  the  ‘true’  fifth  Duchess 

'9  P.  Aries,  The  Hour  of  Our  Death,  trans.  H.  Weaver  (Harmondsworth,  1981),  pp.  461-2 

60  Hal  lam  and  Hockey,  Death,  Memory  and  Material  Culture , p.  136. 

61  Quoted  from  Godey’s  Lady  Book  (1860),  in  L.  Taylor,  Mourning  Dress.  A Costume  and  Social 
History  (London,  1983),  p.  243. 

62  This  argument  is  developed  in  M.  Pointon,  ‘Materializing  mourning:  hair,  jewellery  and  the 
body’,  in  Material  Memories,  ed.  M.  Kwint,  C.  Breward  and  J.  Aynsely  (Oxford,  1999),  p.  43. 

63  Devonshire  MSS,  Letters  of  the  fifth  Duke  of  Devonshire,  1889,  Georgiana  Morpeth  to  Lord 
Hartington,  n.d.  (after  30  March  1806).  It  appears  that  she  did  indeed  wear  the  ring  until  her  own 

64  A.  Foreman,  Georgiana’s  World.  The  Illustrated  Georgiana,  Duchess  of  Devonshire  (London, 
2001),  p.  239. 



of  Devonshire.  There  were  also  numerous  mourning  bracelets  and  rings  created  following 
the  death  of  the  Duchess,  a number  of  which  Georgiana  kept  until  her  own  death.  Many  of 
these  items  included  the  hair  of  the  Duchess,  and  Georgiana  clearly  attached  a great  deal  of 
value  to  them,  as  they  were  among  the  items  she  bequeathed  in  the  various  editions  of  her 
will.65  Mourning  jewellery  of  all  types  acted  to  sustain  the  relationships  with  the  deceased, 
and  could  do  so  across  many  generations,  as  Lady  Carlisle’s  bequests  would  have  allowed.66 
The  wearer  of  such  items  continued  to  be  linked  with  both  the  actual  body,  through  the  hair, 
and  the  idealized  memoiy  of  the  deceased,  thus  emphasising  their  own  links  to  their  ancestors, 
and  their  dynastic  identity. 


It  was  not  only  through  bereavement,  mourning  and  grieving  that  new  identities  could  be 
formed.  In  death,  the  deceased’s  own  identity  could  be  reshaped,  and  through 
commemoration,  reinvented.  While  the  dying  and  deceased  may  have  attempted  some 
influence  with  regards  to  any  posthumous  makeover,  it  was  the  living  that  had  full  control 
over  the  nature  of  any  re-evaluation.  For  elite  women,  their  new  identity  usually  fulfilled 
social  ideals  of ‘aristocratic  femininity’  and  so  focused  on  advancing  the  status  of  the  living 
rather  than  that  of  the  dead.  One  could  claim  reflected  glory  from  the  assets  of  a deceased 
relative  to  ensure  the  quality  of  a pedigree  was  upheld  and  the  ideals  of  the  family  secured. 
As  the  purity  of  female  relatives  had  special  currency  among  elites,  and  the  need  to  ensure 
that  blood  lines  were  not  sullied  by  illegitimacy,  qualities  such  as  chastity  and  monogamous 
femininity  were  especially  praised. 

Following  a death,  the  person’s  documentary  history  and  lasting  identity  could  be  reshaped. 
In  large  country  houses  with  muniment  rooms  it  was  usual  practice  for  aristocrats  to  keep 
letters  that  they  had  received  and  even  copies  of  those  they  had  sent.  These  along  with 
diaries  and  other  writings  provided  the  family,  and  historians,  with  a lasting  record  of  the 
deceased’s  actions  and,  in  some  cases,  their  thoughts.  It  was  common  for  family  members  to 
sort  these  letters  in  the  months  and  years  following  a death.  Following  the  death  of  Isabella 
Arundell  in  1839,  her  husband,  Henry,  faced  a struggle  to  keep  control  of  her  personal 
effects.  Her  sister-in-law,  Lady  Marianne  Clifford  Constable,  had  requested  many  items  for 
herself,  which  had  distressed  him,  leading  him  declare  that  ‘upon  reflection  she  [Marianne] 
must  be  aware  that  what  would  be  dear  to  her  as  a friend  must  be  infinitely  more  so  to  me  as 
a husband’.67  He  was  keen  to  keep  control  of  the  memory  of  his  wife,  and  so  burnt  her  letters. 
However,  he  did  keep  her  journals  and  sketches:  ‘I  have,  as  is  natural,  held  them  most  sacred, 
they  contain  almost  the  history  of  her  too  much  valued  life  ever  to  be  in  the  possession  of  any  other 
person  than  myself.68  The  words  and  images  of  the  deceased  could  be  emotive  reminders  to 
the  bereaved,  and  so  there  was  great  concern  to  ensure  that  they  were  properly  managed, 
and  reluctance  to  part  with  significant  items.  The  majority  of  the  letters  of  Isabella,  fourth 
Countess  of  Carlisle,  that  survive  today  are  not  the  originals,  but  a copy  book  of  letters 

65  A5/166,  Probate  of  the  will  and  codicil  of  the  Rt  Hon.  Georgiana  Dorothy  Countess  of  Carlisle,  15 
June  1859;  Carlisle  MSS,J18/63,  Memos  about  health,  Park  Street,  6 June  1817. 

66  Hallam  and  Hockey,  Death,  Memory  and  Material  Culture , pp.  140-1. 

67  Brynmor  Jones  Library,  Charles  Chichester  MSS,  DDCH/36,  Letters  to  and  from  Mary  Barbara 
Chichester,  Henry  Arundell  to  Mary  B.  Chichester,  26  August  1831. 

68  Ibid 



written  up  by  her  youngest  daughter,  Julia  Howard  (1750-1849).  Isabella  had  lived  a life 
which  fell  outside  the  expectations  of  aristocratic  femininity.  Following  the  death  of  her  first 
husband,  the  fourth  Earl  of  Carlisle,  she  swiftly  remarried,  was  then  separated  from  her  new 
husband,  and  was  involved  in  subsequent  affairs  during  her  self  imposed  exile  in  France.69  It 
appears  that  Julia  may  have  felt  that  she  needed  to  help  improve  her  mother’s  image,  and  so 
selected  those  letters  that  reflected  the  idealized  virtues  that  Isabella  wrote  about  in  her 
Maxims ,/0  This  didactic  text  set  out  strict  rules  of  behaviour  for  young  elite  women,  who 
were  told  to  respect  their  husbands,  and  to  present  to  wider  society  an  idealized  image  of 
domestic  harmony  and  feminine  virtue.  It  is  unclear  when  the  book  of  letters  was  written  up, 
but  it  was  probably  after  the  death  of  Isabella  in  January  1795. 71  The  letters  stress  the  aging 
Isabella’s  enjoyment  of  mature  virtuous  activities  such  as  sewing,  walking  and  quiet 
contemplation.  They  provide  Isabella  with  the  distinctly  virtuous  identity  that  her  own 
activities  had  undermined,  but  which  could  be  posthumously  regained.  In  some  cases  the 
sorting  of  documents  was  continued  by  later  generations  of  the  family  who  had  not  even 
known  the  deceased;  the  collection  at  Chatsworth  appears  to  have  been  sorted  during  the 
Victorian  period,  and  many  of  the  letters  of  Georgiana,  fifth  Duchess  of  Devonshire,  were 
edited  with  thick  black  lines/2  Even  those  women  who  took  care  to  control  and  edit  their 
own  collection  of  papers  in  their  later  years  may  have  fallen  foul  of  this  later  management.73 
This  is  not  to  say  that  all  letters  containing  personal  intimacies  were  destroyed;  a number  of 
letters  in  which  the  writer  had  included  ‘burn  this  letter’  as  a postscript  survive.74  By  editing 
and  destroying  the  letters  of  the  dead,  the  living  family  could  ensure  that  the  image  of  the 
deceased  matched  the  family’s  ideals,  and  that  the  quality  of  the  dynasty  was  not  threatened. 

A more  public  and  lasting  way  that  the  identity  of  elites  was  shaped  after  their  death  was 
in  their  commemoration.  Obituaries,  epitaphs  and  memorials  in  the  form  of  monuments  or 
mausolea  all  offered  was  to  record  the  ‘nature’  of  the  deceased  in  a lasting  and  public  way. 
These  provided  the  opportunity  to  highlight  the  role  that  an  individual  had  played  within 
their  family,  and  to  confirm  their  position  within  the  dynasty.  The  celebration  of  women’s 
lives  was  normally  shaped  by  their  domestic  duties,  and  their  role  as  mothers  and  their 
feminine  attributes  were  especially  highlighted.  Women’s  inclusion  within  the  dynastic 
monuments  of  the  families,  especially  the  mausolea,  meant  that  their  roles  and  position 
within  the  pedigree  were  celebrated  too.  The  ways  that  women  were  represented  following 
their  death  can  be  seen  as  asserting  their  femininity  and  aristocratic  status,  which  were  not 
only  celebrated,  but  confirmed  and  assured  for  future  prosperity. 

69  For  a further  discussion  of  Isabella’s  life  see:  C.  Ridgway,  ‘Isabella,  fourth  Countess  of  Carlisle:  No 
Life  by  Halves’,  in  Maids  & Mistresses,  Celebrating 300  Years  of  Women  and  the  Yorkshire  Country 
House , ed.  R.  M.  Larsen  (York,  2004),  pp.  35-52;  W.  H.  Smith,  Originals  Abroad.  The  Foreign 
Careers  of  Some  Eighteenth-century  Britons  (New  Haven,  Conn.,  1952),  pp.  91-114. 

70 1.  Carlisle,  Thoughts  in  the  Form  of  Maxims  Addressed  to  Young  Ladies  on  Their  First  Establish- 
ment in  the  World  (Dublin,  1790). 

71  Carlisle  MSS,J13/l/3,  Copybooks  of  letters  to  Julia  Howard  from  Isabella  Carlisle,  1771-2. 

11  A.  Foreman,  Georgiana,  Duchess  of  Devonshire  [ London,  1998),  p.  xv. 

74  At  the  start  of  the  twentieth  century  Rosalind,  ninth  Countess  of  Carlisle  appears  to  have  man- 
aged and  shaped  her  own  archives  at  Castle  Howard.  Among  the  items  included  were  rather 
intimate  drawings  of  her  by  her  husband,  who  was  an  artist  - Dr  Christopher  Ridgway,  curator  at 
Castle  Howard,  pers.  comm. 

74  E.g.  Devonshire  MSS,  Letters  of  the  fifth  Duke  of  Devonshire,  1890,  Georgiana  Morpeth  to  Lord 
Hartington,  10  April  1806. 



Stephen  Howard’s  study  of  the  representation  of  women  in  the  printed  media  of  the 
eighteenth  century  illustrates  the  importance  placed  on  domestic  values  in  women’s 
biographies  and  obituaries.  As  obituaries,  although  anonymous,  were  usually  written  by  a 
relative  of  the  deceased,  familial  and  dynastic  concerns  were  often  central  in  the  published 
piece/5  The  female  subject  was  often  portrayed  as  a moral  exemplar,  and  the  general  agreement 
within  society  regarding  those  qualities  which  deserved  commendation  meant  that  obituaries 
rarely  showed  signs  of  individuality.  Central  themes  and  merits  appeared  including  the 
subject’s  devoutness;  her  purity  of  heart  and  body;  her  sweetness  and  kindness  to  family  and 
strangers;  her  compassion;  and,  in  her  difficulties,  fortitude  and  resignation.  Familial 
relationships  were,  for  many  women,  the  principal  means  by  which  their  lives  were  defined, 
and  this  was  especially  true  for  aristocrats  whose  main  duties  were  usually,  both  in  practice 
and  in  perception,  based  around  the  support  and  enhancement  of  their  family.  A week  after 
the  1859  death  of  Eliza  Chichester  at  Burton  Constable,  an  announcement  was  placed  in  the 
local  newspaper.  It  noted  that  she  had  died  following  a long  illness:  ‘borne  with  greatest 
patience  and  cheerfulness  ...  [the]  loss  to  her  sorrowing  sister  Lady  Clifford  Constable,  and  all  their 
friends  which  had  the  happiness  of  knowing  her  is  irreparable’.76  Eliza  was  a single  woman  living 
with  her  sister  and  her  family,  and  so  Eliza’s  relations  with  her  sister  and  friends  were  her 
main  familial  activities,  for  which  she  was  duly  praised. 

The  importance  of  dynasty  can  also  be  seen  in  the  burial  practices.  Members  of  the 
aristocratic  family  were  often  interred  together  in  family  tombs  within  churches;  for  example 
the  Harewoods  used  the  Lascelles  crypt  under  All  Saints  Church  at  Harewood,  and  the 
Irwins  were  buried  in  Whitkirk  Church  near  Temple  Newsam.  Other  families  chose  to  build 
their  own  burial  monuments,  such  as  a mausoleum,  as  can  be  found  at  Castle  Howard  for  the 
Carlisles  and,  for  the  Burton  Constable  family,  at  Halsham,  East  Yorkshire.  The  mausoleum 
at  Castle  Howard  reflects  a novel  approach  in  the  third  Earl’s  determination  to  confirm  the 
family’s  status  through  the  celebration  of  past  lives,  as  it  is  reputedly  the  first  of  such 
monuments  to  be  associated  with  a country  house  in  Britain/'  Its  design  indicates  the 
importance  of  the  mausoleum  as  a way  of  protecting  and  promoting  the  family’s  reputation. 
Its  base  is  a series  of  curved  retaining  walls,  with  niches  set  between  square  bastions,  thus 
giving  the  effect  of  a fortress,  indicating  both  its  symbolic  importance  and  that  the  members 
of  the  family  were  still  safeguarded  even  after  death.  By  placing  the  mausoleum  at  Castle 
Howard  in  the  estate  grounds  it  served  the  dual  purpose  of  burial  place  and  ornament.  The 
interior  of  the  building  was  described  as  being  ‘as  noble  a space  as  it  is  possible  to  conceive’, 
and  the  whole  package  can  be  seen  as  an  assertion  of  the  family’s  aristocratic  status/8 

75  S.  Howard,  “‘A  bright  pattern  to  all  her  sex”:  representations  of  women  in  periodical  and 
newspaper  biography’,  in  Gender  in  Eighteenth-Century  England:  Roles,  Representations  and 
Responsibilities , ed.  H.  Barker  and  E.  Chalus  (London,  1997),  p.  232.  For  epitaphs  and  gender  see 
M.  Vovelle,  ‘A  century  and  half  of  American  epitaphs  (1660-1813)  - toward  the  study  of  collective 
attitudes  about  death’,  Comparative  Studies  in  Society  and  History  22  (1980),  534-47. 

76  ERYARS,  DDCC(2)/45A/15,  Hull  Advertiser,  29  October  1859. 

77  J.  S.  Curl,  A Celebration  of  Death.  An  Introduction  to  Some  of  the  Buildings,  Monuments,  and 
Settings  of  Funerary  Architecture  in  the  Western  European  Tradition,  Revised  Edition  (London, 
1993),  p.  179.  For  a full  discussion  of  the  conception  and  building  of  the  Castle  Howard  mausoleum 
see  Saumarez  Smith,  The  Building  of  Castle  Howard,  ch.  6. 

78  Curl,  A Celebration  of  Death,  pp.  179-80. 



Mausolea  and  vaults  allowed  families  to  be  brought  together  after  death;  bodies  would  be 
transported  back  from  abroad  to  be  buried  with  their  relatives.  The  burial  of  family  members 
at  a single  location  meant  that  the  importance  of  dynasty  during  life  continued  after  death, 
as  they  were  to  be  continually  recalled  as  part  of  the  pedigree,  not  as  individuals.  Inclusion 
in  the  mausoleum  would  highlight  that  person’s  position  as  part  of  the  family,  although  there 
can  be  surprising  inclusions  and  absences.  Servants  were  not  normally  buried  with  the 
family,  but  Nanny  Dowler,  the  long  serving  nurse  from  Burton  Constable,  was  buried  in  their 
mausoleum,  indicating  her  importance  to  the  family.79  Those  who  married  would  often  be 
included  in  their  marital  family’s  plot:  at  Castle  Howard  a great  many  of  the  children  were 
not  interred  in  the  monument,  including  the  unmarried  Julia  Howard  who  had  lived  at  the 
house  for  most  of  her  ninety-nine  years.80  A private  building  also  allowed  a family  to  manage 
their  own  burial  space.  Unlike  a public  church  they  had  control  over  who  was  buried  there, 
and  so  the  dynastic  purity  of  the  family  could  be  protected.  When  the  mausoleum  at  Halsham 
was  completed  in  1802,  all  the  bodies  from  the  family  vault  in  the  parish  church  were  moved 
into  the  new  building,  except  for  that  of  one  member  of  the  Constable  family  who  had 
squandered  estate  finances  on  racing  whippets.81 

Individuals  could  also  be  celebrated  by  their  own  memorial  monuments.  During  the 
eighteenth  and  nineteenth  centuries,  these  monuments  became  increasingly  popular,  and 
there  was  a growth  in  the  number  dedicated  to  women  and  children.  They  were  often 
designed  to  mark  the  role  of  women  as  wives  and  mothers,  thus  reflecting  the  continued 
celebration  of  the  ideals  of  aristocratic  femininity  after  death.82  During  the  early  modern 
period,  memorial  monuments  often  presented  the  image  of  the  family  mourning  the  deceased 
together,  with  the  children  often  shown  as  miniature  kneeling  figures  around  the  tomb.83 
Although  the  image  of  the  family  continued,  it  became  less  formal  and  more  affectionate  in 
nature  as  generic  mourning  figures  were  replaced  by  weeping  mothers.  These  monuments 
allowed  individual  expressions  of  grief;  mourning  was  too  formal  to  allow  real  woe  to  be 
shown,  but  monuments  offered  a public  medium  for  the  articulation  of  personal  sorrow.84 

The  monuments  often  used  similar  language  to  those  found  in  the  printed  obituaries, 
using  the  same  discourse  of  aristocratic  feminine  virtue.  The  relationship  between  these 
two  forms  of  commemoration  is  most  notable  on  the  monument  of  Lora  Burton  Dawnay, 
fourth  Viscountess  Downe,  in  York  Minster.  The  monument  instructs  viewers  that  ‘for  her 
character  and  other  particulars  see  the  Gentleman’s  Magazine  for  May  MDCCCXII’.  The 
tablet  was  erected  by  her  son  in  1836,  many  years  after  her  death,  aged  72,  in  April  1812,  and 

79  Geradine  Mulcahy,  pers.  comm. 

8(1  Many  thanks  to  the  Hon.  Simon  Howard  for  allowing  me  to  explore  the  Castle  Howard  mauso- 
leum. Julia  was  buried  in  London. 

81  N.  B.  Penny,  Church  Monuments  in  Romantic  England  (London,  1977),  p.  58. 

82  N.  B.  Penny,  ‘English  monuments  to  women  who  died  in  childbed  between  1780— 1835’,  Journal  of 
the  Warburg  and  Courtauld  Institutes^  (1975),  314;  J.  W.  Hurtig,  ‘Death  in  childbirth:  seventeenth- 
century  English  tombs  and  their  place  in  contemporary  thought’,  The  Art  Bulletin  65  (1983), 

83  See,  for  example,  H.  Zerek-Kleszcz,  ‘The  death  of  a child  in  old  Polish  culture’,  Acta  Poloniae- 
Historica  79  (1999),  7. 

84  D.  Irwin,  ‘Sentiment  and  antiquity:  European  tombs  1750-1830’,  in  Mirrors  of  Mortality.  Studies 
in  the  Social  History  of  Death,  ed.J.  Whaley  (London,  1981),  pp.  144-5;  Aries,  The  Hour  of  Our 
Death , p.  327. 



clearly  recognized  the  published  obituary  as  the  best  record  of  Lady  Downe’s  life.  A short 
extract  from  it  was  included  on  the  monument,  which  noted,  among  other  characteristics 
that  she  had: 

a real,  unpretending,  and  almost  unconscious,  good  sense,  and  a firm  desire  to  act  right,  on  all 
occasions,  to  the  best  of  her  judgment  were  her  most  distinguishing  characteristics.  Activity  of  mind 
and  body,  sound  health,  cheerful  manners,  the  open  confidence  of  an  honest  mind,  the  lively 
serenity  of  an  easy  conscience,  with  a benevolent  disposition,  and  hereditary  personal  graces,  both 
of  form  and  face,  which  even  in  age  had  not  disappeared,  complete  her  picture. 

This  description  of  Lady  Downe  illustrates  both  her  aristocratic  and  feminine  qualities,  as 
her  conscience  and  good  sense  were  enhanced  by  her  inherited  beauty.  The  monument  also 
stresses  how  she  died  in  the  presence  of  her  children  and  ‘faithful  attendants’,  illustrating 
her  success  as  both  an  elite  employer  and  domestic  mother.  By  arranging  for  a tablet  to  be 
placed  in  York  Minster,  although  she  was  buried  at  Snaith,  her  family’s  desire  to  assert  her 
status  is  stressed  by  celebrating  her  life  in  the  most  important  church  in  Yorkshire. 

Two  monuments  to  women  who  grew  up  in  Castle  Howard  also  celebrate  their  domestic 
and  feminine  qualities.  After  the  death  in  1825  of  Elizabeth,  fifth  Duchess  of  Rutland, 
daughter  of  the  fifth  Earl  of  Carlisle,  her  husband  arranged  for  a mausoleum  to  be  built  and 
dedicated  to  her  memory  on  the  Belvoir  Castle  estate.  Although  the  remains  of  other  Rutland 
ancestors  were  moved  into  the  building,  it  was  clearly  conceived  as  a shrine  to  Elizabeth, 
shaped  by  the  sentiments  of  a grieving  husband.  Within  the  mausoleum  is  a figure  of  the 
Duchess,  ascending  to  heaven,  her  outstretched  arms  greeting  the  angelic  figures  of  the  four 
children  who  predeceased  her.85  The  celebration  of  Elizabeth’s  maternal  virtues  reflects  the 
importance  placed  on  the  dynastic  role  that  she  played  in  the  Rutland  family,  and  asserted 
her  merits.  These  themes  can  also  be  found  on  the  monument  to  Lady  Elizabeth  Lechmere, 
daughter  of  the  third  Earl  of  Carlisle  and  one  of  the  three  Howard  sisters  discussed  above. 
Located  at  Westminster  Abbey,  near  the  then  fashionable  ‘Poet’s  Corner’,  it  highlights  her 
feminine  qualities  and  her  husband’s  lasting  devotion  to  her.  It  was  erected  more  than  thirty- 
five  years  after  her  1739  death,  and  was  paid  for  by  the  will  of  her  widowed  second  husband, 
Sir  Thomas  Robinson,  who  died  in  1775.  The  epitaph  records  that  the  monument  was 
erected  to  perpetuate  her  husband’s: 

gratifying  sense  of  pleasure  he  had  in  the  Conversation  of  an  accomplished  Woman,  a sincere 
friend,  and  an  agreeable  Companion,  with  particular  direction  that  his  own  bust  should  be  placed 
by  hers. 

Robinson’s  decision  to  include  payment  for  a memorial  for  his  wife  in  his  will  shows  how  he 
must  have  endured  a continuing  attachment  to  her,  even  many  years  after  her  death.  His 
description  of  Elizabeth  as  ‘accomplished’  and  a friend  shows  the  companionate  nature  of 
their  relationship,  which  he  was  pleased  to  celebrate  publicly  by  placing  the  monument  in  a 
high  profile  area  of  Westminster  Abbey. 

Both  these  monuments  celebrate  the  feminine  qualities  and  domestic  lives  of  the  women, 
although  the  different  time  periods  do  reflect  different  emphases  in  the  epitaphs,  with  the 
celebration  of  intellect  and  the  inclusion  of  moral  warning  becoming  less  common  in  the 

85  Penny,  Church  Monuments,  pp.  56-7. 



nineteenth  century.  However,  while  they  portrayed  the  deceased  as  persons  of  elite  virtue, 
the  actions  and  natures  of  the  women  did  not  necessarily  justify  such  proclamations.  In  both 
obituaries  and  epitaphs  the  more  dubious  elements  of  a woman’s  life  were  usually  ignored  or 
described  with  sympathy  but  with  a caveat  that  their  downfall  should  be  reminder  to  all 
about  the  importance  of  a morally  sound  life.86  Elizabeth,  Duchess  of  Rutland,  was  known  as 
the  ‘proudest  woman  in  England’  whose  abrupt  and  unfriendly  manner  to  her  less  well- 
connected  Howard  siblings  caused  her  father,  the  fifth  Earl  of  Carlisle,  much  sorrow,  especially 
when  her  brothers  suffered  from  her  ‘unsister  like  coldness’  following  the  death  of  their 
mother,  the  Earl’s  wife.8/  Although  portrayed  as  a loving  mother  to  the  children  who  had 
predeceased  her,  her  relations  with  the  children  who  had  reached  maturity  were  on  occasions 
difficult.  After  Elizabeth’s  death,  her  sister  Julia  Howard  noted  that  ‘the  innocence  of  her 
conduct  I was  always  convinced  of.  She  cancelled  so  much  of  the  excellence  of  it,  which  has 
now  appeared’.88  Julia  felt  obliged  to  overlook  the  Duchess  real  nature,  and  seek  at  least 
some  evidence  of  virtue.  Elizabeth  Lechmere  likewise  did  not  lead  a virtuous  life,  and  if  the 
monument  had  been  erected  immediately  following  her  death  it  would  have  almost  certainly 
have  caused  much  surprise  in  London,  where  she  caused  scandal  due  to  her  drinking, 
gambling  and  attempted  suicide.  With  the  passing  of  time,  her  husband  hoped  to  reclaim  her 
reputation.  These  monuments  can  therefore  be  seen  as  the  continued  construction  of  the 
feminine  identity,  the  final  performance  of  aristocratic  domestic  virtue. 

Encounters  by  elite  women  with  the  death  of  one  close  to  them  could  have  a significant 
impact  on  their  lives,  and  may  have  reshaped  their  identity.  In  widowhood,  a woman  entered 
a new  stage  of  her  life  which  may  have  given  her  independence  and  freedom  to  lead  her 
marital  family,  as  Frances,  Viscountess  Irwin  did.  In  contrast,  it  may  have  meant  that  a 
woman  had  to  return  to  her  natal  family,  and  that  her  new  identity  was  more  that  of  an  elite 
single  woman  rather  than  of  a dynastic  matriarch.  In  mourning  and  its  associated  cultures, 
women  could  assert  their  links  with  the  deceased  and  the  bereaved  through  the  wearing  of 
mourning  dress,  jewellery,  or  the  sending  of  condolence  letters.  It  was  in  the  commemoration 
of  the  deceased,  though,  that  an  elite  woman’s  identity  was  most  likely  to  be  reshaped.  The 
public  declaration  of  femininity,  dynastic  loyalty,  and  familial  affection  through  monuments 
and  obituaries  ensured  the  lasting  status  of  the  deceased,  and  closely  associated  them  with 
elite  feminine  qualities  beyond  their  lives  and  into  perpetuity.  The  importance  of  aristocratic 
femininity  was  so  strong  that  many  years  after  a death,  relatives  would  erect  monuments  to 
express  and  reclaim  the  deceased’s  virtues.  Death  provided  the  living  with  an  opportunity  to 
re-form  alliances,  re-state  affection,  and  re-write  histories.  The  identity  of  the  deceased 
could  be  negotiated  and  previous  failings  forgotten.  While  for  the  deceased,  death  may  have 
been  the  great  leveller,  for  the  living,  its  effects  and  responses  were  distinctly  aristocratic. 

86  Howard,  “‘A  bright  pattern  to  all  her  sex’”,  pp.  236-7. 

H7  Lewis,  In  the  Family  Way,  pp.  29,  53-4;  Carlisle  MSS,  J 14/1/72,  Frederick  Carlisle  to  his  daughter, 
Elizabeth  Rutland,  Belvoir  Castle  [1824].  For  a more  flattering  view  of  Elizabeth  see  R.  Baird, 
Mistress  of  the  House.  Great  Ladies  and  Grand  Houses  (London,  2003),  pp.  258-83. 
m Carlisle  MSS,  J 18/50,  Julia  Howard,  The  Priory,  to  Georgiana  Carlisle,  20  December  [1825]. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 



Peter  Holmes 

The  discovery  of  a digest  of  the  accounts  of  the  partnership  of  John  Hustler  and  Thomas 
Hardcastle,  colliers  and  coal-merchants,  which  was  in  business  from  1781  to  1806,  shows 
how  Yorkshire  entrepreneurs  played  a crucial  role  in  the  development  of  coal-mining  in 
Lancashire.  Having  helped  in  the  creation  of  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal,  the  two  Brad- 
ford businessmen  set  up  a successful  company  in  conjunction  with  John  Wright,  a promi- 
nent London  banker,  which  mined  coal  in  the  Orrell  area  and  sent  it  by  the  canal,  in  boats 
belonging  to  the  partnership,  to  Liverpool  where  Hardcastle  based  himself  as  a coal-mer- 
chant. The  accounts  furnish  evidence  for  the  nature  and  scale  of  the  business  and  its  profit- 
ability. Further  information  about  the  partners  and  their  families  is  also  provided  from  wills 
and  vital  records. 

The  pivotal  role  of  Yorkshireman,  John  Hustler  (1715-1790)  in  the  development  of  the 
Industrial  Revolution  is  well  established.  As  a woolstapler  he  played  a significant  part  in  the 
growth  of  Bradford’s  worsted  trade.  He  was,  in  the  quarter  century  before  his  death,  one  of 
the  town’s  leading  inhabitants  and  was  responsible  with  others  for  building  the  Piece  Hall 
and  other  public  buildings.  In  addition,  as  a philanthropic  Quaker,  he  played  an  important 
part  in  the  development  of  that  sect,  the  social,  political  and  economic  role  of  which  on  a 
national  scale  can  hardly  be  exaggerated.  It  was  above  all  as  one  of  the  promoters  of  the 
‘Grand  Canal’  linking  Leeds  and  Liverpool  that  he  is  best  remembered.  Even  if  in  its  incep- 
tion the  project  was  not  his  responsibility,  and  even  if  he  died  well  before  it  was  completed, 
it  can  hardly  be  doubted  that  he  was  the  most  important  single  figure  in  the  development  of 
the  canal.  What  was  remarkable  about  Hustler  was  his  willingness  to  play  a role  nationally  in 
the  promotion  of  both  the  canal  and  the  wool  trade,  lobbying  parliament,  writing  pamphlets 
and  using  the  newspaper  press  to  promote  business  with  a sort  of  religious  fervour. 

John  Hustler  is  generally  called  a woolstapler,  and  this  description  is  the  one  he  preferred 
himself.  This  seems  fitting  in  view  of  his  close  connection  with  Bradford,  the  developing 
centre  of  the  Yorkshire  wool  trade.  But  recent  research  has  also  emphasised  that  he,  in 
company  with  another  Bradford  entrepreneur,  Thomas  Hardcastle,  played  a significant  part 
in  the  growth  of  the  Lancashire  coal  industry,  especially  in  the  area  close  to  Wigan  and 
centring  on  Orrell.  Thus  Hustler,  from  Bradford,  extended  his  geographic  reach  over  the 
border  with  Lancashire  and  also  diversified  into  a new  industrial  sphere.  It  is  with  this 
aspect  of  his  career  that  this  paper  is  concerned.1 

1 Gary  Firth,  Bradford  and  the  Industrial  Revolution  (Halifax,  1990),  pp.60,  81-5,  143-6;  Charles 
Hadfield  and  G.  Biddle,  The  Canals  of  North  West  England.  Vol.  I (Newton  Abbott,  1970), 
pp. 60-82;  D.  Anderson,  The  Orrell  Coalfield,  Lancashire  1740-1850  (Stoke-on-Trent,  1975), 
pp. 21-45,  186-90;  John  Langton,  Geographical  change  and  the  Industrial  Revolution:  Coalmining 
in  South  West  Lancashire,  1590-1799  (Cambridge,  1979),  esp.  chap. 7. 




The  discovery  of  a digest  of  the  accounts  of  Hustler,  Hardcastle  & Co.  in  their  business  as 
master  colliers  and  coal-merchants  helps  provide  more  detail  about  this  aspect  of  Hustler’s 
career.2  It  shows  how  important  contacts  with  other  businessmen  like  Hardcastle  were  and 
how  transport,  investment  and  entrepreneurship  came  together  to  provide  a solid 
framework  for  industrial  development.  The  accounts  are  contained  in  a small  book, 
measuring  11  cm.  by  18  cm.,  and  bound  in  vellum.  The  binder’s  label  on  the  corner  of 
the  first  page  reads:  ‘W.  H.  HYDE,  Bookseller,  Newcastle’.  The  book  is  270  pages  long,  with 
125  of  the  pages  containing  accounts.  On  the  inside  front-page  is  written:  ‘Copies  of 
Extracts  taken/  from  the  Books  of  Accounts/  of  the  late  Firm  of  Hustler  Hardcastle  & Co./ 
Deer.  1830./  N.  N.  Bailey’.  The  book  was  clearly  used  very  briefly  at  some  later  stage  to 
record  on  two  pages  some  costs  associated  with  an  ironmonger’s  shop,  and  this  may  explain 
the  inscription  on  the  vellum  cover  of  the  book  which  reads:  ‘Mr  Thomas  Wilder’s/  Book 
Stone[?J  St./  Chelse[a?]  1866’. 

The  account  book  consists  of  three  principal  elements,  presented  in  double-entry  format. 
First,  the  accounts  of  ‘trading  concerns  at  Liverpool’,  which  cover  the  years  1781  - 1789,  and 
are  divided  into  a ‘Profit  and  Loss’  account  (pp.  1 — 18)  and  then  an  incomplete  summary  of 
the  ‘Nett  Estate’  in  these  years  (pp. 19-31 ).  Second,  the  same  format  and  years  are  covered  by 
the  accounts  of  the  ‘Colliery  Concerns’  (pp. 35-50;  51-68).  Third,  there  are  three  accounts 
showing  the  state  of  the  investment  of  the  three  partners  in  the  firm:  John  Hustler  in  Brad- 
ford, covering  the  years  1780  to  1790,  continued  in  the  name  of  William  Hustler  from  1791 
to  1810,  with  references  to  ajohn  Hustler  in  1807  and  1808  (pp. 73-86).  The  next  statement 
covers  the  investment  of  Thomas  Hardcastle,  with  no  geographical  location  given,  from 
1782  to  1789,  with  reference  to  his  executors  from  1791  to  1810  (pp. 87-98).  Finally,  a 
statement  of  the  account  of  John  Wright  in  London,  from  1782-1801,  with  his  executors 
referred  to  from  1802  to  1810  (pp. 99-110).  In  addition  to  these  three  elements  the  accounts 
also  contain  some  summaries  which  probably  show  why  they  were  drawn  up:  there  is  ‘An 
account  of  Sundries  forming  the  Nett  Estate  of  the  Colliery  Concerns  on  the  31st  of  Decem- 
ber 1788’  and  a corresponding  account  of  ‘Debts  owing  by  the  Collieries  to  Sundry  Persons’ 
at  that  date.  The  profit  and  loss  down  to  5 July  1789  is  then  added  into  the  sum  of  these  two 
accounts  (pp. 69-72).  Later  in  the  book  there  is  a ‘Statement  of  the  Amount  of  the  personal 
Estate  and  Effects  of  Thomas  Hardcastle  on  the  6th  July  1789’  (pp. 116-7),  which  is  to  be 
linked  to  ‘An  account  of  Monies  received  by  Mrs  Mary  Hardcastle  as  Executor  of  Thomas 
Hardcastle  from  the  Partnership  of  Hustler  Hardcastle  & Co.  subsequent  to  the  6th  of  July 
1789’  (p.123).  There  is  also  a ‘Statement  showing  the  value  of  the  Colliery  Engines,  Imple- 
ments, Coals  ungotten,  Drowned  Coals  and  sundry  other  effects  belonging  to  Hustler 
Hardcastle  & Co.  on  the  20th  day  of  September  1806  when  the  Copartnership  expired’ 
(pp. 118-20).  Hence  it  looks  as  if  the  executors  of  the  will  of  Thomas  Hardcastle,  or  those 
acting  on  their  behalf,  had  the  accounts  drawn  up  to  ensure  that  on  the  dissolution  of  the 
partnership  there  was  an  equitable  division  of  the  funds.  The  accounts  as  they  stand  were 
clearly  drawn  from  more  detailed  records,  and  there  are  a number  of  references  to  the 

2 The  present  author  purchased  the  account  book  at  the  Castle  Bookshop,  Colchester  in  about 
1990;  a photocopy  of  the  accounts  is  deposited  in  the  Archives  of  the  Yorkshire  Archaeological 



Ledger  and  the  Journal,  which  would  undoubtedly  have  contained  a fuller  financial 


It  is  safe  to  conclude  from  the  dates  drawn  from  the  account  book  and  given  above  that  the 
partnership  between  Hustler,  Hardcastle  and  Wright  started  in  1781,  that  it  continued  until 
1806,  despite  the  deaths  of  all  the  original  partners,  and  was  finally  dissolved,  after  four  years 
of  winding-up,  in  1810.  It  is  also  reasonable  to  deduce  from  the  accounts  that  the  three 
partners  contributed  an  equal  share  to  the  investment  in  the  business,  and  it  seems  (though 
this  is  less  clear)  that  the  initial  share  was  £2,900  each.3  Essentially,  Hustler  and  Hardcastle 
were  the  executive  force  in  the  company,  with  Hustler  perhaps  the  senior  figure  and  with 
Wright,  as  far  as  one  can  see,  a sleeping  partner.  To  judge  by  the  accounts,  Hustler  had 
already  begun  operations  at  least  three  years  before  the  other  two  partners  formally  joined 
the  business;  and  from  other  sources  we  know  Hustler  and  Hardcastle  were  both  involved  in 
coal  in  the  Wigan  area  from  1774-75.  It  is  also  known  from  other  sources  that  Hustler  and 
Hardcastle  were  prominent  from  as  early  as  1766  in  the  projection  of  plans  to  develop  the 
Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal,  and  that  this  was  the  reason  for  their  involvement  in  the  Lanca- 
shire coalfield.  They  were  significant  figures  in  raising  the  capital  for,  and  in  working  to 
smooth  the  passage  of,  the  canal,  establishing  contacts  with  men  in  Lancashire  for  this 

Initially,  the  best  chance  of  making  money  from  the  canal  was  likely  to  come  from  taking 
coals  from  the  Lancashire  collieries  to  Liverpool,  and  it  was  important  to  ensure  that  the 
part  of  the  canal  which  would  make  this  link  was  opened  quickly.  In  this  enterprise  Hustler 
and  Hardcastle  worked  closely  with  the  Wigan  landowner  and  lawyer,  Holt  Leigh,  and  his 
father  Alexander  Leigh.  The  Leigh  family  had  played  a major  part  in  developing  the  Douglas 
Navigation  earlier  in  the  century  and  Hustler  was  able  in  1771  to  persuade  Alexander  Leigh 
to  sell  the  majority  share  holding  he  held  in  the  Douglas  to  the  proprietors  of  the  Leeds  and 
Liverpool  Canal.5  The  accounts  record  several  payments  to  the  ‘Douglas  estate’,  which  are 
presumably  to  be  interpreted  as  evidence  of  a continued  separate  financial  existence  of  the 

3 The  opening  balance  in  the  individual  account  of  each  shareholder  is  almost  exactly  £2,900  in  the 
case  of  Hustler  and  Hardcastle,  and  £2,600  in  the  case  of  Wright.  But  Wright’s  share  may  have  been 
adjusted  later.  See  below  for  the  withdrawals  on  account  of  each  of  the  share-holders,  which  run  very 
close  together;  moreover,  Hardcastle’s  share  is  always  given  as  a third  share. 

4 See  Firth,  Bradford, ; Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield ; Langton,  Geographical  change, ; cf.  Arthur 
Raistrick,  Quakers  in  Science  and  Industry  (Newton  Abbott,  1968),  pp. 78-80,  185,  216,  297-8, 
329;  H.  R.  Hodgson,  The  Society  of  Friends  in  Bradford  (Bradford,  1926),  pp. 38-43;  Wade 
Hustwick,  ‘An  Eighteenth  Century  Wool-Stapler’,  Journal  of  the  Bradford  Textile  Society 
(Bradford,  1956-7),  117-25;  Gary  Firth,  ‘John  Hustler’,  Oxford  Dictionary  of  National  Biography 

5 Hadfield  and  Biddle,  Canals  of  North  West  England,  pp.64-5;  J.  R.  Harris,  ‘Liverpool  Canal 
Controversies  1769-1772’ , Journal  of  Transport  History  II  (May,  1956),  158-74;  H.  F.  Killick, 
‘Notes  on  the  Early  History  of  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal’,  Bradford  Antiquary ; n.s.  I 
(1900),  169-238;  Mike  Clark,  The  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal  (Preston,  1990),  esp.  chaps  2 and  3.  On 
the  Leigh  family,  see  John  Langton,  ‘Alexander  Leigh’,  Oxford  Dictionary  of  National  Biography 
G.A.  Knight,  ‘Catalogue  of  Holt  Leigh  Estate  Title  Deeds,’ Wigan  1971,  typescript,  National  Register 
of  Archives  A500.1857. 



Douglas  Canal  even  after  this  take-over.  Thus,  in  1785  a payment  of  £40  6.?.  to  the  Douglas 
estate  is  recorded,  and  payments  of  £25  in  1786  and  1788  and  of  £24  16s1.  in  1787  (pp.41,  43, 
45,  47).  In  1789  a payment  of  £60  from  the  Douglas  Estate  is  found  rather  curiously  on  the 
profit  side  of  the  account  (p.50).  These  sums  look  like  tolls  paid  by  Hustler  and  Hardcastle, 
or  possibly  a rental  for  some  use  of  landing-rights  on  the  Douglas.  The  successful  alliance 
forged  between  the  men  of  Yorkshire  (Hustler  and  Hardcastle  in  the  lead)  and  the  Leighs 
destroyed  the  efforts  of  a group  of  Liverpool  merchants  to  undermine  the  Leeds  and 
Liverpool  development  by  building  a rival  canal  from  Wigan  to  Liverpool.  Once  the  main 
share-holding  in  the  Douglas  Canal  had  been  bought,  and  the  Leighs,  together  with  others  in 
the  locality  of  Wigan,  had  been  persuaded  to  support  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal,  the 
merchants  in  Liverpool  had  no  choice  but  to  co-operate  with  Hustler.  Far-sighted  Liverpool 
merchants  like  the  Blundells  then  moved  to  the  Wigan  area  to  take  advantage  of  the 
opportunities  presented  by  the  opening  up  of  markets  to  Wigan  coal;  the  development  of 
Blundell’s  collieries  was  to  have  many  parallels  with  the  development  of  Hustler’s.  Other 
prominent  investors  from  both  Bradford  and  Liverpool  were  also  attracted  to  the  area  as 
time  went  by;  for  example,  one  John  Jarratt,  gent.,  whom  I take  to  be  the  collier  from 
Bradford  who  was  to  lay  the  foundation,  with  others  (including  John  Lofthouse  of 
Liverpool,  himself  an  investor  in  the  Wigan  Coalfield),  of  the  great  Low  Moor 
Ironworks.  It  is  interesting  to  see  Lofthouse  being  drawn  across  the  Pennines 
in  the  same  way  that  Hustler,  Hardcastle  and  Jarratt  were,  but  in  the  opposite  direction.6 

The  Leighs  owned  a great  deal  of  the  coal  in  the  Orrell  area  and  it  was  certainly  from  them 
that  Hustler  and  Hardcastle  obtained  the  majority  of  their  colliery  leases.  But  the  first  lease 
taken  by  Hustler  was  in  1774  when  he  and  the  surveyor  on  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal, 
John  Longbothom,  leased  the  Orrell  Four  Feet  Seam  in  part  of  Charles  Prescott’s  Ayrefield 
estate  in  Up  Holland.  The  Prescotts  were  landowners  in  the  area  who  had  been  involved  in 
coal  mining  for  many  years.  This  lease  I take  to  be  the  origin  of  the  Ayrefield  colliery,  one  of 
the  three  collieries  mentioned  in  the  accounts.  The  accounts  make  references  to  the  Rev 
Charles  Prescott,  the  most  significant  of  which  records  a debt  of  £247  5 s.  Id.  owed  to 
Prescott  on  31  December  1788  by  the  collieries,  and  which  may  constitute  his  rent  (p.70).  In. 
1775  Hustler,  Hardcastle,  John  Longbothom,  and  John  Chadwick,  ironmaster  of  Burgh  (a 
relative  of  the  Leighs,  and  from  a family  associated  with  mining  in  the  area  for  some  time), 
had  taken  a lease  from  Holt  Leigh  on  the  Dean  colliery  to  work  the  Four  Feet  Seam  and  what 
was  left  of  the  Five  Feet  Seam.  In  1776  Hustler,  Hardcastle  and  Chadwick  leased  what  is 
called  the  Orrell  colliery  in  the  accounts,  also  from  Leigh  for  a period  of  thirty  years,  having 
taken  over  the  lease  from  Longbothom  who  had  originally  taken  it  the  previous  year  but  was 
now  in  financial  difficulties.7  According  to  Anderson,  the  ‘certain’  rent  agreed  for  the  Dean 
and  Orrell  collieries  at  first  was  £500,  which  increased  to  £900  in  1788,  to  £1,000  in  1791 
and  £2,500  in  1801.  In  addition  there  were  ‘mine  rents’  to  be  paid  for  each  of  the  two  seams 
(Four  Feet  and  Five  Feet)  mined  at  a designated  sum  per  acre.8  The  account  book  does  not 
corroborate  these  sums  but  it  does  contain  some  enigmatic  references  to  Holt  Leigh  in 

6 Langton,  Geographical  Change , p.223  & appendix  2;  W.  E.  Preston,  ‘Some  Notes  on  an  Old 
Bradford  Partnership’,  Bradford  Antiquary , n.s.  3 (1912),  316. 

7 Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield , pp.  186-7. 

8 Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield ' p.187. 



connection  with  the  transfer  of  large  sums  of  money.  Thus  in  the  ‘Nett  Estate’  of  the  colliery 
concerns  in  1783  (pp.53-4)  there  is  a record  of  a debt  owing  to  Holt  Leigh  of  £1,172  16s.  1 </., 
and  in  the  opposite  column  a debt  owed  by  Holt  Leigh  of  £1,553  15s.  10 d.  Similarly  in  1785 
(pp.57-8)  we  find  ‘To  Holt  Leigh  Esqr,  transferred’  £215  19s.  4lAd.  and  ‘To  H.  Leigh  Esqr, 
Acct,  for  Sundries  as  pr  Journal’  £1,710  Is.  1 d.\  and  also  on  the  other  side  of  the  balance 
sheet  ‘By  Holt  Leigh  Esqr,  Acct,  for  Sundries  as  P Journal’  £1,158  11s.  3 d.  These  entries, 
whatever  they  mean  precisely,  clearly  corroborate  the  general  point  that  there  was  a close 
financial  association  between  Leigh  and  the  firm. 

Thus,  after  1776,  Hustler,  Hardcastle  and  Chadwick  ran  the  collieries  until  in  1780 
Chadwick  died,  and  his  widow  wished  to  disengage  herself  from  the  business.  Clearly,  with 
Chadwick  gone,  Hustler  and  Hardcastle  wished  to  find  a new  investor,  and  this  they  did  in 
the  shape  of  John  Wright.  There  is  other  evidence  that  financial  support  was  needed  at  this 
point.  A letter  survives  written  by  Hustler  to  Leigh  in  1779  in  which  Hustler  asks  the 
colliery-owner  for  credit  because  he  cannot  find  the  full  sum  he  owes  him.9  In  1781  Hustler 
mortgaged  twenty-seven  shares  in  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal  and  one  in  the  Bradford 
Canal  with  the  London  Quaker  bankers,  Daniel  Mildred  and  Jonathan  Hoare.  Thus  Hustler 
was  mortgaging  shares  in  the  canal  in  order  to  finance  an  investment  in  his  coal  business 
which  would  use  the  canal  for  transport,  thus  ensuring  the  dividend  on  the  shares.  Hustler 
was  demonstrating  his  faith  in  his  pet  project,  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal,  in  a very  real 
way.  It  has  been  suggested  that  this  mortgage  may  have  been  connected  with  his  purchase  at 
this  time  of  Undercliffe  House  in  Bradford,  but  it  must  also  have  been  linked  to  his  invest- 
ment in  the  collieries.10  It  is  also  worth  reflecting  that  1781  was  a good  year  in  which  to  make 
such  an  investment,  since  the  English  economy  was  in  bad  shape  but  an  astute  investor 
might  see  that,  with  the  American  War  of  Independence  coming  to  a close,  the  chances  of 
future  economic  growth  were  high  and  that  an  Atlantic  port  like  Liverpool  might  well 
benefit  from  this  peace.  So,  by  1781  the  partnership  between  Hustler,  Hardcastle  and  Wright 
had  been  established,  with  the  three  collieries  mentioned  in  the  account  book,  at  Ayrefield, 
Dean  and  Orrell,  and  the  coal-merchanting  business  in  Liverpool. 

While  Hustler,  living  in  Bradford,  certainly  knew  something  about  coal,  he  was  a woolstapler 
by  trade  and  his  career  aptly  demonstrates  the  point  often  made  about  entrepreneurs,  that 
what  they  needed  was  not  specialist  knowledge  but  a head  for  business  and  a willingness  to 
adapt.  It  is  difficult  to  envisage  how  the  colliery  operations  were  run  but  it  seems  likely  that 
the  Wigan  end  of  things  was  more  in  the  hands  of  Hustler  than  Hardcastle.  Whether  Hustler 
actually  stayed  there  for  long  periods  is  unclear,  but  he  was  close  enough  at  Undercliffe 
House,  Bradford,  to  be  there  in  a day,  and  it  seems  likely  that  he  would  have  visited  Wigan 
reasonably  frequently.  Hustler’s  will,  made  in  1790,  suggests  that  he  was  still  actively 
involved  as  a woolstapler  in  business  with  Edmund  Peckover,  but  it  may  be  that 
his  son,  William  (and  less  probably  his  younger  sonjohn  also),  were  already  helping  him  in 
this  trade  and  indeed  may  also  have  worked  in  the  management  of  the  collieries  too.11 

9 Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  p.188. 

10  J.  R.  Ward,  The  Finance  of  Canal  Building  in  Eighteenth  Century  England  (Cambridge, 
1974),  p.110. 

11  B[orthwick]  Institute  for  Archives,  York], Will  of  John  Hustler  of  Undercliffe,  Bradford,  merchant, 
made  26/7/1790,  passed  York  22/1/1791. 



Certainly,  some  of  his  descendants  did  set  up  house  in  Orrell,  although  they  continued 
through  the  first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century  to  be  based  also  in  Yorkshire.  But  there  was 
almost  certainly  a permanent  local  figure  employed  to  manage  the  colliery  too:  William 
Robinson,  engineer  of  Ayrefield  House,  Up  Holland,  is  known  to  have  been  Hustler’s 
manager  in  the  1790s.12  The  accounts  also  show  a payment  of  £224  to  J.  Blundell  & Son 
made  on  1 October  1809,  as  the  ‘amount  of  the  value  of  coals  gotten’  (p.120).  This  suggests 
that  at  this  point  another  prominent  master  collier,  Jonathan  Blundell,  was  acting  as  a 
subcontractor  in  one  of  Hustler  and  Hardcastle’s  collieries.13  John  Hustler’s  management 
was  certainly  not  lacking  at  the  strategic  level,  though.  In  1784  we  find  him  supporting  the 
creation  of  a committee  set  up  in  Bradford  under  Abraham  Balme  to  oppose  the  proposals 
made  by  Pitt  the  Younger  to  introduce  a tax  on  coal:  ‘no  pains  ought  to  be  saved  that  may  be 
used  in  the  least  degree  to  defeat  it’,  Hustler  wrote  in  a letter  to  John  Hardy,  the  Bradford 
attorney  who  was  also  a master-collier  and  entrepreneur,  and  an  associate  of  John  Jarratt. 
The  pressure  brought  to  bear  by  Balme,  Hardy,  Hustler  and  their  supporters  was  sufficient 
to  get  this  senseless  proposal  for  a tax  removed.14  It  is  interesting  to  see  Hustler  uniting  the 
Lancashire  and  Yorkshire  coal  interest  in  fighting  in  a common  cause  to  defend  their 

Holt  Leigh  and  his  son,  the  eccentric  Sir  Robert  Holt  Leigh,  Bart.,  had  such  a high  regard 
for  John  Hustler’s  integrity  and  acumen  that  after  Hustler’s  death  Sir  Robert  is  said  to  have 
refused  to  give  the  lease  on  his  coalmines  to  anyone  who  did  not  have  the  surname  Hustler 
- his  judgement  presumably  reflecting  Leigh  family  tradition.15  The  opportunity  to  put  this 
loyalty  to  the  test  had  come  soon  enough,  forjohn  Hustler  died  in  1790  and  the  management 
of  the  business  then  passed  to  William  (1766-1801),  his  son  by  his  second  wife,  Christiana 
Hird.  John’s  will  mentioned  his  widow,  three  children  by  his  second  wife  besides  William 
(Sarah,  John  and  Anna)  and  two  daughters  (Hannah  Hustler  and  Jane  Fisher,  wife  of  William 
Fisher  of  Leeds,  merchant)  by  his  first  wife,  whom  I would  identify  as  Tabitha  Grimshaw.16 
In  the  will  John  left  a total  of  twenty  shares  in  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal,  which  he 
valued  at  £150  each,  and  the  interest  on  which  he  said  was  4 per  cent.  He  specifically 
mentioned  also  ‘the  colliery  in  Lancashire  in  which  I am  engaged  along  with  John  Wright  of 
London  banker  and  Mary  Hardcastle  widow’;  this  suggests  that  he  held  at  that  point  no 
further  colliery  leases  apart  from  those  in  which  he  was  engaged  with  these  partners.  By  his 
will  his  share  in  the  colliery  was  to  be  run  for  a further  three  years  by  his  executors  (his  wife, 
Christiana,  and  eider  son,  William),  in  order  to  fund  his  various  legacies,  and  then  to  be 
given  to  William.  William  was  to  admit  John,  the  younger  son,  who  had  himself  received 

12  Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  p.191. 

13  On  the  Blundells  see  D.  Anderson,  ‘Blundell’s  Collieries,  the  Progress  of  the  Business’, 
Transactions  of  the  Historical  Society  of  Lancashire  and  Cheshire,  vol.  116  (1964),  69ff. 

14  Gary  Firth,  ‘Roles  of  a West  Riding  Land  Steward  1773-1803’,  YAJ,  vol.  51  (1979),  111. 

15  John  Maffey,  ‘On  Some  of  the  Decayed  Families  of  Bradford,’  Bradford  Antiquary ; vol.  I 
(1888),  26-32. 

16  BI,  Will  of  John  Hustler.  F[riends]  Mfeeting]  H[ouse  Library,  Euston  Road,  London],  Records 
of  births,  marriages  and  deaths  of  the  Society  of  Friends.  The  FMH  also  holds  typescript 
biographies  of  the  Hustler  family  among  the  biographical  collections.  The  existence,  and  identity, 
of  Hustler’s  first  wife,  which  is  clear  from  his  will  and  from  the  records  of  marriages,  is  nowhere 
mentioned  in  the  literature  on  Hustler. 



substantial  cash  legacies  from  his  father,  to  a third  of  the  Hustler  share  in  the  colliery  and  a 
third  of  the  wool  trade  conducted  with  Edmund  Peckover,  in  return  for  a payment  of  a third 
of  the  value  of  the  businesses.  Hustler’s  will  also  directed  his  wife  and  son  to  ‘keep  up  the 
credit  and  name  of  the  family’  and  to  ‘keep  the  same  hospitable  house  that  I have  done’.  It 
seems  reasonable  to  infer  that  William  continued  to  run  the  colliery  as  his  father  had  before 
him;  since  Hardcastle  was  dead  by  now,  the  entire  responsibility  must  have  been  borne  by 
him  - Wright  had  probably  never  been  more  than  a sleeping  partner. 

Only  eleven  years  after  his  father,  in  1801,  William  Hustler  also  died.  In  his  will  he  de- 
scribed himself  as  a woolstapler,  and  left  two  ‘original  shares’  in  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool 
Canal,  among  other  things,  to  his  wife,  Jane  Fell,  whom  he  had  married  as  recently  as  1796. 17 
He  instructed  his  trustees  to  do  what  they  needed  with  his  property,  apart  from  investing  it 
in  ‘the  Funds’  - presumably  at  a time  of  war  this  was  due  to  religious  scruples,  and  it  may 
suggest  a further  reason  why  Quaker  money  could  be  so  easily  made  available  to  business 
enterprise.  He  named  his  wife,  his  brother  John,  his  uncle  William  Birkbeck  the  Elder,  and 
his  cousin  William  Birkbeck  the  Younger  as  his  executors.  His  father’s  will  had  also  named 
Morris  and  William  Birkbeck  as  arbitrators  in  case  there  were  any  disagreement  over  the 
disposition  of  his  estate.  Essentially  William  wanted  his  brother  John  to  continue  to  trade  on 
his  behalf  in  order  to  maintain  his  widow  and  children.  William  mentioned  ‘my  share  and 
interest  in  a colliery  in  which  I am  engaged  with  representatives  of  Thomas  Hardcastle  and 
John  Wright  both  deceased  which  I will  shall  be  carried  on  and  wrought  for  the  benefit  of  my 
children  by  my  said  Trustees  as  fully  and  effectually  as  I would  do  if  living’.  The  will  also 
required  the  trustees  to  treat  in  the  same  way  a lease  which  he,  together  with  Edmund 
Peckover  and  others  held  in  a colliery  in  Lancashire  from  Charles  Townley  Esq.  and  Edward 
Townley  Standish  Esq.  This  was  also  in  the  Orrell  area,  and  the  lease  in  question  was  made 
injanuary  1798. 18  Presumably  it  could  be  managed  to  some  degree  in  the  same  way  as  the 
original  colliery  lease.  In  1805  the  accounts  record  a payment  of  £505  on  the  account  of 
Thomas  Hardcastle  to  Peckover  and  Son  (p.95),  which  shows  a close  connection  of  some 
unspecified  sort  between  Peckover  and  the  firm.  The  Peckovers  were  Quaker  bankers  and 
woolstapling  colleagues  of  the  Hustlers  in  Bradford,  and  it  may  be  supposed  that  their 
involvement  was  primarily  as  investors.  By  1799,  Hustler’s  was  the  second  biggest  colliery  in 
the  Orrell  area  with,  according  to  the  land-tax  returns,  thirty-five  employees.19  In  1804  the 
Land  Tax  records  show  that  the  firm  employed  fifty  people.20 

Thus,  after  the  death  of  William  in  1801  the  business  seems  to  have  been  carried  on  by  his 
brother,  John,  and  it  was  under  him  that  the  partnership  was  wound  up  in  the  years 
1806-1810.  In  effect  the  other  two  partners,  or  their  executors,  were  bought  out  by  the 
Hustlers.  The  Hustler  dynasty  continued  to  be  involved  in  the  Lancashire  coal  business, 
however,  under  John  who  lived  until  1844.  Baines’s  Directory  for  1824  lists  John  Hustler 

17  BI,  Will  of  William  Hustler  of  Bradford,  woolstapler,  made  22/6/1799,  proved  York, 12/10/ 
1802;  York;  FMH,  Records  of  Quaker  births,  marriages  and  deaths. 

18  Anderson,  The  Orrell  Coalfield , p.21. 

19  Joyce  H.  M.  Bankes,  ‘Records  of  Mining  in  Winstanley  and  Orrell,  near  Wigan’,  Transactions 
of  the  Lancashire  and  Cheshire  Antiquarian  Society  vol.  LIV  (1939),  61. 

20  Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  p.191. 



and  Co.  as  coal  merchants  in  Liverpool  and  also  as  coal  and  cannel  merchants  at  Orrell.21 
The  Commission  of  Enquiry  into  the  Employment  of  Children  in  Mines  recorded  in  1842 
that  Messrs  J.  Hustler  and  Co,  at  Up  Holland  employed  135  people,  of  whom  twenty  were 
under  13  years  old.22  After  John’s  death  the  business  continued  under  his  son,  John  Mildred 
Hustler,  and  his  brother’s  son,  another  John.  In  the  mid-1840s  the  Hustlers  went  into  part- 
nership with  William  Hill  Brancker  of  Liverpool.23  The  Hustlers  were  now  resident  in  Lan- 
cashire; in  1846  John  Hustler  lived  at  Orrell  Mount  and  John  Mildred  Hustler  at  Orrell 
Hall.24  The  connection  of  the  family  with  coal  mining  in  the  region  does  not  seem  to  have 
lasted  much  longer,  however;  and  apparently  the  seams  were  being  worked  out  by  the  middle 
of  the  century.  John  Mildred  Hustler  was  not  held  in  very  high  regard  as  a businessman  by 
his  relations,  and  he  died  in  any  case  in  1849  at  the  age  of  33.  While  his  cousin  John  was 
more  stable  and  more  able,  he  retired  to  Falmouth  at  some  point  and  it  seems  that  the  links 
between  the  family  and  Orrell  were  ended  around  1850. 25  The  business,  or  what  was  left  of 
it,  passed  to  Brancker. 


Thomas  Hardcastle  was  probably  from  the  same  Bradford  family  as  the  William  Hardcastle 
(who  may  have  been  his  brother)  who  started  the  first  bank  in  the  town,  which  went  bank- 
rupt in  1781. 25  The  Hardcastles,  like  the  Hustlers,  were  from  a family  of  woolstaplers.  Al- 
though Thomas  Hardcastle  was  not  a Quaker,  it  is  possible  that  he  was  related  to  a Quaker 
family  of  the  same  name  from  Hardcastle  Garth,  Hartwith-cum-Winsley  in  the  parish  of 
Kirkby  Malzeard.2'  He  (and  the  banker  William  Hardcastle)  was  fairly  quickly  involved  with 
Hustler  in  the  development  of  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal.  He  was  a treasurer  of  the  canal 
in  1769,  and  worked  hard  to  develop  the  links  with  investors  from  across  the  border  in 
Lancashire.  Like  Hustler,  too,  he  was  then  drawn  by  the  Leighs  into  the  Wigan  Coalfield.  In 
January  1771  he  paid  a very  significant  visit  to  Wigan  in  the  company  of  another  prominent 
Bradfordian,  Abraham  Balme.  They  were  shown  the  area  by  Alexander  Leigh,  who  was 
clearly  trying  to  persuade  them  to  invest  in  the  collieries  there.  Hardcastle  reported 

21  Edward  Baines,  Directory  of  Lancashire  1824  { reprinted  Trowbridge,  1968),  p.614. 

22  Parliamentary  Papers,  XVII  (1842),  Part  ii,  Appendix,  p.194. 

23  C.  H.  A.  Townley,  F.  D.  Smith  and  J.  A.  Peden,  The  Industrial  Railways  of  the  Wigan 
Coalfields  (Cheltenham,  1991),  pp.57,  64. 

24  Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  p.24;  Annual  Monitor,  1846,  death  notice  of  Phoebe  Elizabeth 
Gray  Hustler  aged  11  at  Orrell,  daughter  of  John  and  Phoebe  Hustler;  cf.  Annual  Monitor, 
1841,  death  notice  of  Ann  Hustler,  aged  38  at  Toxteth  Park,  nr.  Liverpool,  for  a suggestion  of 
links  with  Liverpool  in  the  family  then. 

25  H.  R.  Hodgson,  The  Society  of  Friends  in  Bradford  (Bradford,  1926),  p.42;  there  are  references 
to  the  Hustlers  in  the  1830s  and  1840s  in  R.  L.  Brett  (ed.),  Barclay  Fox’s  Journal  (London,  1979), 
see  index. 

26  William  Cudworth,  ‘The  first  Bradford  Bank’,  Bradford  Antiquary,  n.s.  II  (1905),  232-7; 
Wilfrid  Robertshaw,  ‘An  Early  Bradford  Bank  Note’,  Bradford  Antiquary,  X (1962),  214 

27  On  the  Quaker  Hardcastles  see  Bernard  Jennings  (ed.),  A History  of  Nidderdale  (York, 
1992),  pp.398-9.  I should  emphasise  that  my  knowledge  of  the  Hardcastle  family  tree  is  limited 
and  all  comments  about  Thomas  Hardcastle’s  ancestry  and  family  are  tentative. 



(referring  to  himself  in  the  third  person): 

The  Valleyes  being  flooded,  Mr  Hardcastle  could  not  look  over  the  ground  where  the  coal 
seams  are  supposed  to  be,  but  proceeded  to  Mr  Bankes  of  Winstanley  who  informed  the  said  Mr 
Hardcastle  that  in  all  the  ground  between  Wigan  and  Newburgh,  on  both  sides  of  the  Douglas 
Navigation,  are  plenty  of  good  coals,  chiefly  beds  of  from  four  to  six  feet  thick.28 

From  1775,  as  has  been  said,  Hardcastle,  Hustler  and  their  partners  took  leases  on  collier- 
ies at  Ayrefield,  Dean  and  Orrell.  After  forming  the  new  partnership  with  Hustler  and  Wright 
in  1781,  Hardcastle  played  an  active  part  in  the  running  of  the  Liverpool  end  of  the  business. 
He  may  have  been  working  there  somewhat  before,  since  in  April  1780  the  accounts  show 
that  Hustler  paid  him  £ 1 1 1 (p.73).  It  is  worth  emphasising  here  the  significance  to  the  firm 
of  having  a permanent  coal-merchanting  business  at  the  end  of  the  canal  in  Liverpool;  it  is 
also  worth  pointing  out  that  the  role  of  Hardcastle  in  establishing  this  part  of  the  business 
would  have  been  unknown  without  the  evidence  drawn  from  the  account  book.  When 
Hardcastle  died  in  July  1789  it  was  in  Liverpool,  where  he  had  lived.  In  1805  his  widow’s 
address  is  given  as  3,  Leeds  Street,  which  was  next  to  the  canal  terminus,  and  was  probably 
where  the  couple  had  lived  before  Thomas’s  death  and  where  the  company  had  its  office. 
This  was  next  door  to  Jonathan  Blundell’s  house  and  office;  the  Blundells  were  also  promi- 
nent Orrell  colliers,  as  has  been  said. 

Hardcastle’s  will,  proved  in  Chester,  directed  his  trustees  ‘to  carry  on  my  partnership 
concerns  under  the  firm  of  Hustler,  Hardcastle  and  Co. ..for  the  benefit  of  my  said  wife 
during  her  life  and  afterwards  for  the  benefit  of  the  persons  to  whom  I have  hereby  given  the 
residue  of  my  estate’.29  The  Hardcastles  had  no  children  of  their  own  and  Thomas  intended 
his  estate  to  go  eventually  to  a nephew,  John  Hardcastle,  and  a niece,  Elizabeth  Hayes.  His 
trustees  were  his  wife,  Mary,  and  his  friend  Robert  Berry  of  Liverpool,  merchant.  It  seems 
likely  therefore  that  Berry  it  was  who  continued  to  run  the  Liverpool  business,  and  the  will 
allowed  him  to  take  a reasonable  salary  for  doing  so.  There  were  Berrys  involved  in  coal 
mining  at  Orrell,  and  possibly  Robert  was  part  of  this  family;  there  was  also  a Berry  employed 
as  an  engineer  on  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal.30  The  accounts  mention  Robert  Berry  in 
1785  (p.75),  suggesting  that  he  was  already  working  with  Hardcastle  at  that  time.  The  hub  of 
the  business  in  Liverpool  was  presumably  the  same  yard  that  was  mentioned  later  on,  in 
directories  of  1805  and  1824,  and  which  was  in  the  basin  where  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool 
Canal  terminated,  at  2,  Canal  Basin,  Old  Hall  Street.  This  was  right  next-door  to  the  Leeds 
and  Liverpool  Marine  Office,  and  also  the  Orrell  and  Pemberton  Coal  Company.  As  John 
Aiken  reported  in  1795:  ‘The  head  of  this  canal  [the  Leeds  and  Liverpool],  near  the  Ladies’ 
Walk,  is  widened  into  a kind  of  basin,  where  boats  can  load  and  unload  with  the  greatest 

28  Killick,  Bradford  Antiquary,  n.s.  I,  221. 

29  Gore’s  Liverpool  Directory,  1805;  Lancashire  County  Record  Office,  Preston. 

Will  of  Thomas  Hardcastle  of  Liverpool,  coal  merchant,  made  2/7/1789,  proved  Chester  11/7/ 

Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  pp.24,  39,  109,  167-9. 




convenience,  in  a large  coal-yard.’31  In  1824  Thomas’s  widow,  Mary  Hardcastle,  gentlewoman, 
continued  to  live  in  Liverpool,  at  68,  Richmond  Row.33  When  he  died  in  1789,  Thomas 
Hardcastle’s  wealth  is  said  in  the  account  book  to  be  £11,121  13s1.  IVid.  (p.116).  Of  this, 
£8,980  85. 8 d.  was  said  to  be  the  ‘amount  of  his  A share  of  Capital  and  Stock  in  Trade  in  the 
concerns  of  Hustler,  Hardcastle  & Co.’.  Of  the  rest,  he  had  £860  of  canal  shares,  and  his 
furniture,  plate  etc.  were  valued  at  £ 145  145. 6d.  It  is  clear  from  this,  that  Thomas  Hardcastle’s 
fortune  was  concentrated  by  this  time  almost  entirely  in  his  coal-merchant’s  business, 
although  he  was  sensibly  still  hanging  on  to  his  shares  in  the  canal,  which,  as  the  inventory 
shows,  returned  an  annual  dividend  of  £40  I65.  4 d.. 


The  third  partner  was  one  John  Wright,  banker  of  London.  He  is  to  be  identified  as  the 
Quaker  partner  in  the  London  bank  of  Smith,  Wright  and  Co.,  which  Wright  probably  joined 
in  1763  when  it  was  at  the  Golden  Ball,  Lombard  Street.  After  1792  it  amalgamated  with 
Esdaile  and  Co.,  the  firm  founded  by  Sir  James  Esdaile,  and  carried  on  business  at  21  Lombard 
Street  as  Esdaile,  Smith,  Wright,  Hammett  and  Co.33  It  seems  possible  that  Wright  seldom  (or 
even  never)  visited  Orrell  or  Liverpool;  he  was  simply  a sleeping  partner,  part  of  the  Quaker 
network  whose  money  Hustler  arranged  to  invest.  The  bank  had  been  used  by  Hustler  before 
and  in  fact  became  one  of  the  chief  mechanisms  by  which  investors  in  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool 
Canal  were  found,  and  the  bank  had  also  lent  cash  to  the  canal’s  management  committee  at  one 
point.34  The  work  of  banks  in  the  eighteenth  century  in  the  financing  of  coal  mining,  while  not 
unknown,  was  a little  unusual  and  the  involvement  of  Wright  in  investments  in  a coalfield  so  far 
from  his  home  territory  is  interesting.3^  It  is  clear  this  involvement  developed  in  economic 
terms  from  Wright’s  connection  with  the  canal  project,  and  in  personal  terms  from  his 
association  with  Hustler  as  a fellow-Quaker. 

Wright  was  originally  from  Norfolk,  born  on  the  6 July  1728  at  Buxton  in  that  county,  the 
son  of  Richard  and  Grace  (born  Smythies).  After  Richard  died,  Grace  remarried  Edmund 
Peckover  at  Norwich  on  2 February  1762.  Peckover  was  Hustler’s  woolstapling  partner  and 
fellow  investor  in  the  Lancashire  coalfields.36  Wright  outlived  the  other  two  original  part- 
ners in  the  firm.  He  died  on  New  Year’s  Day  1798  near  his  retirement  home  in  Esher,  Surrey: 
‘he  ...  rode  out  on  horseback  by  himself  and  ...  when  he  went  from  home  he  seemed  in  perfect 
health  and  ...  about  half  an  hour  after  his  leaving  he  dropped  off  his  horse  in  an  apoplectic  fit 

31  John  Aiken,  A Description  of  the  Country  from  Thirty  to  Forty  Miles  Round  Manchester, 1795 
(London,  1795,  reprinted,  Newton  Abbott,  1968),  p.363. 

33  Edward  Baines,  Baines’s  Lancashire  1824 , p.27 1 , 

33  F.  G.  Hilton  Price,  A Handbook  of  London  Bankers  (London,  1890-1),  pp.  153-4,  57-8 

34  J.  R.  Ward,  The  Finance  of  Canal  Building  in  Eighteenth  Century  England  (Cambridge, 
1974),  pp.35,  186. 

35  M.  W.  Flinn,  The  History  of  the  British  Coal  Lndustry  vol.  2,  1700-1830,  the  Industrial 
Revolution  (Oxford,  1984),  p.208;  L.  S.  Pressnell,  Country  Banking  in  the  Industrial  Revolution 
(Oxford,  1956),  pp.322,  342-3. 

36  Details  of  Wright’s  family  connections  are  from  FMH,  Records  of  Quaker  births,  marriages  and 



and  died  instantly’.37  His  will  shows  that  there  was  more  money  to  be  made  in  banking  than 
woolstapling  and  coal-merchanting.  He  mentions  landed  property  at  Esher  and  Kennington 
in  Surrey,  at  various  places  near  Buxton  in  Norfolk,  and  at  Wingfield  in  Suffolk.  There  is 
reference  made  to  50  shares  in  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal.  He  had  no  scruples  about 
investing  in  Consols  and  left  numerous  cash  legacies.  The  clerks  in  the  bank  were  not 
forgotten,  including  one  John  Overend,  later  to  be  the  founder  of  a famous  London  bank. 
Wright  left  £ 100  to  Sir  Benjamin  Hammett,  ‘which  I request  him  to  accept  as  a token  of  my 
respect  and  of  the  satisfaction  I have  found  in  his  conduct  in  the  very  large  transactions 
between  us’,  but  then  thought  better  of  it  and  withdrew  this  bequest  in  a codicil.  Like 
Hustler  and  Hardcastle  before  him,  Wright  envisaged  that  the  colliery  business  should 
continue  to  trade  after  his  death,  and  the  income  from  it  be  used  to  pay  the  various 
annuities  which  he  bequeathed  to  his  relatives. 


For  the  purposes  of  the  accounts  the  coal-merchanting  business  at  Liverpool  was  treated 
separately  from  the  collieries,  presumably  because  it  was  separately  managed  by  Hardcastle 
and  then  by  Berry.  This  suggests  also  that  the  trade  at  Liverpool  did  not  merely  consist  of 
selling  coal  mined  at  the  collieries  belonging  to  the  firm,  but  that  the  canal-boats  also  brought 
other  people’s  coal  to  Liverpool  from  Wigan.  There  are  six  items  of  income  in  the  account 
book  (pp.1-18,  see  Table  1),  the  largest  by  far  being  from  the  sale  of  house  coal,  which 
brought  in  between  £402  (1786)  and  £1,439  (1789).  This  was  sold  at  six  shillings  a ton  in 
1787  and  1788.  Hence  in  1786  and  1789,  Hardcastle  was  selling  1,340  tons  and  4,796  tons 
respectively.  This  was  the  typical  Orrell  coal  from  the  Orrell  Four  Foot  Seam.  More  valuable 
was  the  Smith’s  Coal  from  the  Five  Foot  Seam,  which  Hardcastle  sold  to  the  value  of  £97  in 
1781  and  £314  in  1784.38  Smith’s  Coal  fetched  65.  6 c/.  in  1789;  hence  the  tonnage  sold  in 
1781  was  298,  and  in  1784  was  966.  A small  quantity  of  the  famous  cannel  coal  was  also  sold 
at  lOs.  6c/.  a ton;  this  may  have  been  mined  in  Orrell,  since  according  to  Anderson  there  was 
a small  seam  of  it  - known  locally  as  ‘hoo’  cannel  - there.  It  is  probably  more  likely,  however, 
that  it  came  from  elsewhere,  since  the  cannel  from  Orrell  was  of  an  inferior  quality  and 
would  not  command  the  prices  quoted  above.  If  this  is  correct,  it  is  evidence  that  the  firm 
was  selling  coal  from  other  collieries  apart  from  their  own.39  Sales  of  cannel  ranged  from  £37 
( 1783)  to  a mere  £6  ( 1788).  The  firm’s  accounts  also  show  that  they  sold  limestone  (at  seven 
shillings  a hundred-weight)  in  small  quantities  and  also  ‘slack  and  cinders’  (which  cost  £1  for 
100  baskets  of  a hundred  weight  and  a half).40  On  the  last  day  of  1789  the  accounts  show  that 
the  flats,  or  flat-bottomed  canal  boats,  had  ninety-one  tons  of  paving  stones  on  board.  These 
were  quarried  in  the  Orrell  area  and  were  a significant  import  to  Liverpool  at  the  time.41  The 

37  T[he]  N[ational]  Archives],  Will  of  John  Wright,  proved  Prerogative  Court,  Canterbury,  3/2/1798. 
This  is  a long  and  interesting  probate  record,  since  Wright  left  two  drafts  of  his  will. 

38  Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  p.  16. 

39  Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  pp.36,  179. 

40  On  the  use  of  slack,  see  Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  p.  197. 

41  Anderson,  Orrell  Coalfield,  pp.  9-10;  John  Aiken,  Description , p.370.  For  the  development  of 
Liverpool  trade  and  the  importance  of  coal,  see  J.  Langton,  ‘Liverpool  and  its  Hinterland  in  the 
Late  Eighteenth  Century’,  in  Commerce,  Industry  and  Transport:  Studies  in  Economic  Change  on 
Merseyside,  ed.  B.  L.  Anderson  and  P.  J.  M.  Stoney  (Liverpool,  1983),  pp.1-25. 



accounts  also  show  an  unspecified  income  from  boats,  which  varied  from  £109  (1784)  to 
£335  (1788);  presumably  this  income  derived  from  the  transport  charges  made  bringing 
other  goods  along  the  canal.  The  colliery  accounts  show  that  the  firm  owned  nine  flats: 
Dolphin,  Neptune,  Venus,  Henry  Jane,  Triton,  Speedwell,  Argos,  Mars  and  Dean  are 
mentioned.  The  boats  were  valued  in  1788  at  £980,  for  nine  boats,  which  means  about  £ 109 
each.  There  were  in  1786  a total  of  89  boats  plying  between  Wigan  and  Liverpool,  so  Hustler 
and  Hardcastle  had  about  a ninth  of  this  trade.42  The  boats  were  subject  to  quite  frequent 
repair  and  they  feature  on  occasions  on  the  loss  side  of  the  accounts  for  this  reason.  The 
accounts  of  the  colliery  concerns  also  show  an  income  from  the  boats  (in  addition  to  that 
recorded  at  Liverpool),  presumably  because  there  was  a two-way  movement  of  goods.  In 
Hustler’s  account  with  the  firm,  there  is  a reference  on  two  occasions  to  payments  from 
Hustler  to  Hardcastle  and  also  to  Hardcastle’s  associate,  Robert  Berry,  for  a ‘parcel  of  sugar’ 
and  then  for  a ‘cask  of  sugar’  and  also  for  raisins  and  plums  (p.75),  and  this  may  suggest  that 
these  were  the  sort  of  goods  which,  purchased  in  Liverpool,  could  be  transported  along  the 
canal.  Presumably  these  commodities  were  brought  as  close  to  Bradford  as  possible  on  the 
canal  and  then  transferred  to  a carrier. 

The  coal  sold  by  Hardcastle  in  Liverpool  must  have  been  bought  for  domestic  and  indus- 
trial use  in  the  expanding  town  itself  and  its  surrounding  area.  But  some  was  certainly 
exported.  As  John  Aikin  reported  in  1795,  the  opening  of  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal 
afforded  ‘such  plentiful  supplies  of  coal  as  greatly  to  add  to  the  exportation  of  that 
commodity  from  this  port’.43  Some  of  the  more  intriguing  entries  in  the  accounts  mention 
the  name  of  Thomas  Horne:  on  10  March  1787,  Hustler  appears  to  have  drawn  from  Horne 
in  London  the  sum  of  £93  18s.  2<7  (p .75),  while  at  the  same  time,  Hardcastle’s  account  shows 
an  entry  in  the  name  of  Horne  to  the  value  of  £250  (p.87);  and  Wright  an  entry  for  £156  135.6(7. 
(p.99).  The  following  year  Wright  seems  to  have  drawn  £404  3s.  Sd.  (p.101)  against  an  entry  in  the 
name  of  Thomas  Home  and  Co.,  a total  sum  close  to  that  involved  the  previous  year.  Thomas 
Horne  was  the  most  prominent  coal-factor  in  London,  from  (predictably)  a Quaker  family.  It 
may  not  be  too  fanciful  to  interpret  these  entries  in  the  accounts  as  showing  that  Horne 
bought  two  consignments,  in  1787  and  1788,  of  Wigan  coal  to  sell  in  London.  I know  of  no 
other  evidence  to  show  that,  before  the  advent  of  the  railways,  a London  coal-merchant  was 
able  to  break  the  stranglehold  on  his  trade  imposed  by  the  lordly  Newcastle  colliers.  It  would 
clearly  be  extremely  advantageous  for  Horne  to  do  so,  but  the  fact  that  the  accounts  do  not 
show  that  the  experiment  (if  such  it  was)  was  repeated  in  subsequent  years  may  indicate  that 
it  was  still  too  expensive  to  do  this,  given  the  long  journey  by  sea  that  was  required. 

The  total  figures  for  the  net  profit  made  at  Liverpool  show,  as  one  might  expect,  some 
rather  lean  years  at  the  beginning  of  the  firm’s  existence  but  then,  from  1784,  with  the 
establishment  of  peace  and  prosperity  under  the  Younger  Pitt,  a very  healthy  development 
of  profit  so  that  after  nearly  a decade  the  firm  was  roughly  twice  as  profitable  as  it  had  been 
at  its  inception.  Fluctuations  in  the  sales  at  Liverpool  presumably  also  show  changes  in  the 
weather,  since  house  coals  represented  the  bulk  of  the  sales.  (See  Table  1) 

42  Aiken,  Description,  p.370. 

43  Aiken,  Description,  pp.342,  125-6. 



Table  1:  ‘Profit  and  Loss’  of  trading  concerns  at  Liverpool  1781-1789  (main  items,  to  nearest  £) 





















Profit:  By 



By  Boat 

Loss:  To 























































£13  Loss 

























































The  colliery  concerns  in  the  Orrell  area  were  valued  in  the  figures  for  the  Nett  Estate 
(Table  4)  at  between  three  times  and  twice  the  value  of  the  trading  concerns  at  Liverpool, 
and  this  certainly  was  a larger  business.  There  were  three  collieries,  called  the  Dean,  Orrell 
and  Ayrefield  Colliery.  The  latter  was  clearly  the  smallest  of  the  pits,  while  Dean  was 
generally  more  productive  than  Orrell,  although  at  times  Orrell  did  better  (Table  2).  Dean 
was  in  capital  terms  a more  valuable  pit  than  Orrell  (Table  3).  Mining  was  obviously  a risky 
business  and  the  fluctuations  in  production  presumably  represent  the  development  and 
overcoming  of  real  engineering  problems  in  the  pits.  The  accounts  also  show  an  income 
from  lime  and  limestone  and  also  from  the  Yards  at  Tarleton.  To  set  against  the  income,  the 
collieries  required  a blacksmith’s  shop,  a farming  and  horse  account,  and  there  were  also 
regular  payments  to  the  Douglas  Estate,  presumably  for  the  use  of  the  Douglas  Navigation. 
(See  Table  2) 



The  Account  Books  show  a healthy  growth  in  the  valuation  of  the  nett  estate  of  the 
colliery  concerns.  At  the  end  of  1788,  the  valuation  was  broken  down  as  shown  in  Table 
3 (pp. 69-71) 

The  pits  were  valued  in  terms  of  their  ‘stock,  pits,  gins,  railways,  and  stock  of  coals  in 
hand’.  The  railway  running  from  Hustler’s  pits  to  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal  was  a 
significant  feature  of  the  local  industrial  landscape  and  an  important  source  of  profit  for  the 
business.44  One  item  in  the  above  valuation  which  requires  comment  is  the  size  of  the  debts 
due  to  the  colliery,  which  represented  well  over  half  the  total  valuation  of  the  business.  This 
accords  with  the  evidence  of  other  collieries  at  around  this  time.  As  John  Langton 
emphasises,  ‘coal  masters  were  forced  to  act  as  “longstops”  in  the  system  of  circulating  debt 
and  credit,  very  much  as  the  merchant  houses  did  in  the  textile  industry’.45 

Table  2:  ‘Profit  and  Loss’  of  colliery  concerns  (main  items,  to  nearest  £) 







Profit  by 







Profit  by 



Profit  by 

Loss  by 





Loss  by 
























































































44  D.  Anderson,  ‘Blundell’s  Collieries,  the  Progress  of  the  Business’,  Transaction  of  the  Historical 
Society  of  Lancashire  and  Cheshire,  vol.  116  (1964),  p.80;  Townley,  Smith,  and  Peden,  Industrial 
Railways  of  the  Wigan  Coalfields , pp.56-7,  64. 

45  J.  Langton,  Geographical  Change , p.216;  Flinn,  History , p.  199. 



Table  3:  Valuation  of  colliery  concerns,  31  December  1788 

Ayrefield  Colliery 


Dean  Colliery 


Orrell  Colliery 


Blacksmith’s  shop,  tools  etc. 


Farming  Stock 


Boats  and  91  tons  of  paving  stones 


Stock  of  sundry  materials 


Debts  due  to  colliery 




Another  final  attempt  at  valuation  was  made  in  1810  to  establish  a value  at  the  point  when 
the  partnership  had  come  to  an  end  four  years  before  in  1806,  and  this  reveals  a little  more 
about  the  running  of  the  colliery  business.  The  Amount  of  the  value  of  the  colliery  engines, 
implements,  machinery,  tools,  materials  and  utensils’  was  £8,950.  In  addition  there  was 
£2,004  worth  of  ‘ungotten  coals  ...  made  available  and  worked  by  virtue  of  the  Pits  and 
Engines  heretofore  belonging  to  the  partnership’.  A valuable  piece  of  machinery  was  the 
pumping  engine  described  as  ‘Harvey’s  Engine’,  whose  value  was  put  at  £730.  This  enabled 
a valuation  of  £ 1,093  to  be  put  on  ‘the  amount  of  coals  under  water  at  Harvey’s  Engine  in 
1806,  but  afterwards  recovered  and  gotten  by  virtue  of  that  Engine  and  the  Pits  thereto 
belonging,  according  to  the  valuation  thereof.  The  valuation  also  itemises  ‘the  value  of  old 
cast  Iron  Rails  & Sleepers  in  the  Pits  called  Gaskells  Pit  & Ashursts  Pit’  (£36)  and  ‘further 
coals  ungotten,  being  2 Roods  & 6 Perches’  (£286). 


In  their  study  of  the  coal  industry  in  the  eighteenth  century,  Ashton  and  Sykes  discussed 
the  profits  that  could  be  made  in  the  coal  business.  Their  assessment  was  that,  despite  the 
grumbles  of  coal-owners,  profits  could  be  very  high  (up  to  46  per  cent  a year  return  on 
investment),  but  that  in  some  years  the  business  could  show  a loss  too.46  The  conclusions 
drawn  by  M.  W.  Flinn  are  more  conservative;  he  speaks  of  profit  being  about  30  per  cent  of 
costs  in  the  eighteenth  century  and  early  nineteenth  century,  and  gives  a rough  figure  of  15 
per  cent  as  the  profit  expressed  as  a percentage  of  investment.47  Both  authorities  stressed 
the  way  in  which  profit  could  fluctuate  quite  widely.  After  some  initial  difficulties  in  the 
early  1780s,  Hustler  and  Hardcastle  was  a profitable  concern.  The  reason  for  this  may  lie  in 
the  way  in  which  Hustler  and  Hardcastle  were  able  to  overcome  the  ‘struggle’  - as  Flinn  puts 
it  - between  those  in  charge  of  production  and  those  in  control  of  marketing,  which 

46  T.  S.  Ashton  andj.  Sykes,  The  Coal  Industries  of  the  Eighteenth  Century  (Manchester,  1929), 
pp. 245-6. 

47  Flinn,  History,  pp. 323-6.  On  the  declining  profits  of  the  late  eighteenth  century,  see  J.  Langton, 
‘Landowners  and  the  development  of  coal  mining  in  south-west  Lancashire,  1590-1799’,  in  Change 
in  the  Countryside:  Essays  on  Rural  England,  1590-1900 \ ed.  H.S.A.  Fox  & R.  A.  Butlin  (London, 
1979),  pp. 136-9. 



especially  in  the  North-East  coalfields  could  drive  down  profits.48  Hustler  and  Hardcastle’s 
business  was  organised  on  the  same  lines  as  those  of  the  Blundells  and  other  Orrell  colliers. 
Not  only  was  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  Canal  a significant  asset  for  the  Wigan  coal-miners, 
but  it  was  central  to  their  operations.  It  is  difficult  to  imagine  a better  example  of  an  inte- 
grated business,  with  production,  transport  and  marketing  all  in  the  same  hands.  Hustler 
and  Hardcastle  worked  the  mines,  transported  the  coal  and  then  sold  it  at  Liverpool.  They 
owned  a large  number  of  shares  in  the  canal,  and  the  coal  and  other  goods  they  transported 
along  the  canal  helped  (through  tolls)  to  produce  the  handsome  dividends  their  canal  shares 
earned.  The  danger  for  a producer  is  that  the  profit  is  mainly  earned  by  the  merchant  who 
sells  the  goods,  or  by  those  who  transport  them;  but  the  organisation  of  the  coal  business  in 
West  Lancashire  prevented  this.  As  was  the  way  in  the  eighteenth  century,  the  capital  invest- 
ment also  belonged  to  the  partners,  or  was  raised  on  terms  which  gave  the  partners  a great 
deal  of  leeway  in  its  use:  since  Hustler  was  a Quaker  like  Wright,  the  investment  Wright  made 
was  more  precious  to  Hustler  but  also  more  secure.  The  Quakers  were  not  exclusive,  how- 
ever, and  their  relations  with  Hardcastle  and  Holt  Leigh,  not  to  mention  Blundell,  Robinson 
and  Berry,  were  crucial  to  the  development  of  the  business.  The  organisation  of  the  worsted 
trade  in  Bradford  was  rather  like  that  of  the  coal  industry  in  Wigan:  the  woolstapler  was 
responsible  for  purchasing  wool,  transporting  it,  combing  it,  and  then  selling  it  on  to  the 
clothiers.  The  development  of  an  integrated  coal  business  between  Wigan  and  Liverpool  has 
certain  parallels  with  the  development  of  woolstapling  in  Yorkshire,  and  one  system  may 
have  influenced  the  other.  The  growth  of  Hustler  and  Hardcastle’s  enterprise  is  clear  from 
the  figures  given  above  for  the  profit  made  in  the  1780s  (Tables  1 & 2),  and  also  from  the 
steady  growth  in  the  ‘nett  estate’  of  the  business  (See  Table  4).  At  first,  progress  may  have 
been  difficult,  and  the  firm  itself  was  set  up  in  response  to  the  need  to  bring  in  Wright’s 
capital  and  to  replace  partners  who  for  one  reason  or  another  had  fallen  by  the  wayside.  The 
reason  for  this  would  seem  to  be  that  the  Orrell  Five  Feet  Seam  had  largely  been  worked  out, 
and  that  mining  had  now  to  proceed  to  a deeper  level  to  reach  the  Four  Feet  Seam.  This  was 
not  only  costly  but  also,  of  course,  a risky  business  since  the  extent  of  the  seam  was  un- 
known. But  the  growth  in  the  late  1780s  seems  to  have  been  very  sharp  and  this  continued 
into  the  next  two  decades.  The  accounts  only  show  profit  and  loss  down  to  the  death  of 
Hardcastle  in  1789  but  the  figures  showing  the  growth  of  the  nett  estate  and  the  separate 
accounts  for  each  partner  are  very  healthy.  The  price  of  coal  in  Liverpool  effectively  dou- 
bled in  the  1790s,  and  the  Orrell  pits  were  still  able  to  handle  this  level  of  demand.  The  really 
profitable  days  came  after  all  three  original  partners  had  died;  but  even  before  that,  the 
return  on  the  initial  investment  was  very  good. 

It  is  very  difficult  to  quantify  the  profit  made  by  Hustler  and  Hardcastle.  Perhaps  the  most 
satisfactory  approach  is  to  look  at  the  ‘nett  profit’  (Tables  1 & 2)  in  relation  to  the  invest- 
ments made  by  each  of  the  partners.  If  we  take  the  figures  given  for  the  nett  profit  at 
Liverpool  and  at  the  collieries  as  representing  the  return  on  investment,  then  the  totals  for 
the  eight  years  for  which  there  are  detailed  records  (1782-89)  make  an  average  of  £578  at 
Liverpool  each  year  and  an  average  of  £1,670  at  Orrell.  So,  the  average  return  was  about 
£750  for  each  of  the  three  investors.  Now,  if  the  initial  investment  were  only  £2,900  each, 

48  Flinn,  History,  ch.8. 



Table  4:  Nett  Estate  of  Hustler,  Hardcastle  & Co.,  1781-1789 

Date  (Dec  31, 

Nett  Estate  of 

Nett  Estate  of 





concerns  at 



(nearest  £) 

(nearest  £) 
























6 July  1789 



this  represents  an  average  return  of  somewhat  over  25  per  cent  a year  on  the  investment. 
Even  shares  in  the  Leeds  and  Liverpool  canal  could  not  match  that.  At  first  the  business  may 
not  have  seemed  so  healthy,  though,  and  it  is  worth  bearing  in  mind  that  early  in  the  1780s 
Hustler  was  mortgaging  his  property  and  his  canal  shares  and  that  Thomas  Hardcastle’s 
relative  William  Hardcastle’s  bank  was  going  bankrupt.  Much  of  the  income  was,  however, 
at  first  ploughed  back  into  the  firm  and  not  taken  as  profit  or  income  by  the  partners.  Again, 
this  is  a feature  of  the  coal  industry  on  which  Flinn  comments  in  his  comprehensive  survey.49 
It  was  always  possible  for  the  economy  to  turn  down  and  for  Liverpool  demand  to  slacken; 
the  weather  presumably  affected  the  sales  of  coal  at  Liverpool,  and  a few  mild  winters  in 
succession  would  not  be  good  for  trade.  The  mines  could  meet  with  problems,  mainly  in  the 
form  of  floodwater  or  some  geological  difficulty.  What  was  more,  the  business  was 
extending  what  seem  to  be  huge  sums  on  credit  to  its  customers  and  this  made  the  certainty 
of  profit  a little  difficult  to  predict.  The  tradition  in  any  case  was  for  businesses  to  plough 
back  profit.  The  accounts  contain  for  both  the  collieries  and  the  Liverpool  business  several 
pages  setting  out  the  ‘Nett  Estate’  of  the  business  (Table  4).  This  accounting  measure 
consisted  of  the  value  of  the  capital  assets  of  the  firm  (presumably  close  at  first  to  the 
investment  of  the  partners)  and  then  the  annual  profit  added  into  the  sum.  This  seems  a 
curious  accounting  device,  except  on  the  assumption  that  plough-back  was  more  or  less  the 
accepted  way  in  which  profit  would  be  taken.  However,  the  partners  did  take  some  of  their 
profit  as  income,  and  this  is  recorded  in  the  third  section  of  the  accounts  which  gives  a 
credit  and  debit  statement  for  each  of  the  partners.  These  show  that  at  first  little  profit  was 
actually  taken  out,  but  that  in  the  1790s  and  1800s  larger  and  larger  sums  were  distributed  as 
dividend  to  the  executors,  heirs  and  assigns  of  the  original  partners.  (See  Table  5) 

These  figures  show  that  the  firm  was  remarkably  profitable.  In  the  years  1782-89  it 
allowed  the  partners  to  draw  on  average  £489  p.a.  each.  (They  were  therefore  ploughing 
back  roughly  a third  of  the  total  profit).  In  the  years  1790-99  the  partners  (or  their 


Flinn,  History,  pp.210-11. 



executors)  were  making  on  average  £867  p.a.,  and  in  the  final  period  of  the  business’s 
history  (1799-1810)  they  were  making  £2,010  a year  each.  This  all  sprang  from  initial 
investments  by  each  partner  in  1781  of  (probably)  £2,900,  and  hence  represents  a very 
healthy  return.  It  also  involved  profiting  from  the  lifetime’s  experience  of  three  very  able 
entrepreneurs  of  the  Industrial  Revolution.  The  pity  was  that  not  one  of  the  partners  lived  to 
see  the  really  profitable  days  of  the  1800s. 

Recent  discussion  of  the  Industrial  Revolution  has  centred  around  the  ‘proto-industrial’ 
development  of  the  economy,  especially  in  the  wool  and  also  the  coal  industries.  According 
to  this  view,  development  here  was  slow  and  hardly  revolutionary,  and  it  built  on  earlier 

Table  5:  Sums  debited  by  the  partners  of  Hustler,  Hardcastle  & Co.  and  their  executors, 





























































































































































developments  going  back  centuries.  The  stress  on  local  studies  perhaps  reinforces  this  view 
- in  certain  regions  particular  specialisms  grew  from  the  traditional  fields  in  which 
excellence  had  been  fostered  there  over  the  centuries.  But  consideration  of  the  career  of 
John  Hustler  shows  that  development  was  not  always  parochial  or  based  on  tradition.  Two 
generations  away  from  yeoman  farming  at  Steeton  in  Yorkshire,  Hustler  had  the  confidence 
to  act  on  a national  stage.  He,  in  combination  with  Hardcastle,  was  prepared  to  move  from 
Yorkshire  into  the  Lancashire  coalfield  and  to  develop  a coai-merchanting  business  in 
Liverpool.  In  this  he  also  moved  away  from  his  family’s  trade,  woolstapling,  and  he  called 
upon  financial  resources  and  connections  in  London.  He  also  made  (if  my  interpretation  is 
correct)  contact  with  a London  coal-merchant  in  an  effort  to  undercut  the  supply  of  the 
capital’s  coals  from  Newcastle.  In  all  this  he  was  taking  advantage  of  the  transport  links 
which  his  enterprise,  and  that  of  his  colleagues  in  Yorkshire  and  Lancashire,  had  deliber- 
ately forged  across  the  Pennines.  Bradford  was  ideally  placed  to  connect  Yorkshire  to  Lan- 
cashire, and  from  Undercliffe  House,  Bradford,  Hustler  could  supervise  a business  in  coal 
which  had  its  impact  across  the  whole  country. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 




Matthew  Roberts 

This  article  focuses  on  electoral  politics  in  the  borough  of  York  and  uses  the  political 
career  of  James  Lowther,  Conservative  MP  for  York  (1865-1880),  as  a case  study  to  explore 
the  continuing  importance  of  local  and  regional  issues  in  mid-Victorian  provincial  politics. 
Although  the  mid-Victorian  years  saw  the  re-emergence  of  parliamentary  reform  and  other 
momentous  political  issues,  there  remained  considerable  electoral  value  in  appealing  to 
civic  ideologies  of  independence  and  protecting  local  rights  and  privileges.  Lowther  was 
able  to  construct  a broad-based  coalition  of  voters  by  drawing  on,  and  reworking,  eighteenth- 
century  traditions  of  electoral  independence.  As  such,  this  article  sets  Lowther’s  electoral 
politics  within  the  context  of  the  long’  eighteenth  century:  the  persistence  of  local  issues 
and  independency,  the  reactionary  nature  of  his  politics  and  the  pre-industrial  composition 
of  the  York  electorate,  all  point  to  a political  culture  that  was  more  akin  to  the  pre-1832 
‘unreformed  system’  than  to  the  ostensibly  ‘ modernised ’,  ‘nationalised’  and  disciplined  world 
of  Victorian  popular  politics.  The  article  concludes  by  locating  York  within  the  wider  context 
of  the  mid-Victorian  electoral  system  and  highlights  some  of  the  different  types  of  continuities 
that  exist  between  Georgian  and  Victorian  popular  politics. 

‘You  determined  to  have  a Yorkshireman  for  York,  and  now  you  have  him.  You  have  vindicated 
the  great  principle  of  local  representation,  and  it  is  no  longer  possible  for  anybody  to  come 
down  here  and  tread  on  your  rights.’2 

So  spoke  James  Lowther  on  his  election  to  represent  the  city  of  York  in  1868.  In  tracing 
the  development  of  popular  politics  across  the  nineteenth  century,  historians  have  subscribed 
to  one  of  two  interpretations.  On  the  one  hand,  there  are  those  historians  who  argue  that  the 
period  witnessed  the  birth  of  a modern  system  of  party  politics  in  which  ‘political  principle 
defined  in  national  terms  by  the  parties  at  Westminster  took  the  place  of  the  local,  factional, 
and  idiosyncratic  concerns’  that  had  characterised  the  previous  system.3  While  this  school 
of  historians  may  disagree  over  the  timing  of  this  development,  central  to  all  these  accounts 

1 I should  like  to  thank  Jon  Lawrence,  Matthew  McCormack,  Edward  Royle,  Tony  Taylor  and 
the  participants  of  the  history  research  seminars  at  the  Universities  of  Huddersfield  and  York 
for  their  helpful  comments  on  earlier  versions  of  this  article. 

2 Yorkshire  Gazette  [ YG\,  21  Nov.  1868. 

3J.  A.  Phillips  and  C.  Wetherell,  ‘The  Great  Reform  Act  of  1832  and  the  political  modernisation 
of  England’,  American  Historical  Review , 100  (1995),  411-36,  at  p.  415. 



are  narratives  of  nationalisation,  modernisation  and  homogenisation.4  The  Reform  Acts  of 
1832  and  1867,  the  associated  growth  of  centralised  party  machines  and  a burgeoning 
partisan  press,  are  all  cited  as  reasons  for  the  creation  of  this  nationalised  political  culture. 

On  the  other  hand,  these  narratives  have  been  challenged,  especially  by  historians  of  the 
‘unreformed  system’  of  later  Hanoverian  and  early  Victorian  England.  Frank  O’Gorman  has 
argued  that  local  issues  remained  paramount  in  popular  politics  at  least  up  to,  if  not  beyond, 
1832.  Indeed,  he  views  the  period  from  1689  to  1866  as  one  of  continuity  and  relative 
stability.5  Similarly,  James  Vernon  has  shown  that  political  parties  in  Westminster  after  1832 
were  widely  rejected  in  the  nation  in  favour  of  local,  idiosyncratic  leaders,  symbols  and 
loyalties,  although  it  is  not  clear  how  long  this  persisted.6  Also  following  in  O’Gorman’s 
footsteps  is  Rosemary  Sweet’s  work  on  early  nineteenth-century  English  borough  politics. 
As  she  convincingly  argues,  ‘even  in  an  age  of  political  reform  and  nationalisation  there  was 
still  considerable  value  in  appealing  to  the  civic  ideology  of  independence,  chartered  rights 
and  freemen’s  privileges’,  each  of  which  ‘derived  their  meaning  from  a sense  of  local  urban 
identity  and  tradition.’7  Since  much  of  this  work  emphasises  the  participatory,  popular  and 
even  partisan  nature  of  the  ‘unreformed’  system  - Vernon  goes  so  far  as  to  suggest  that  the 
old  system  was  more  democratic  than  the  system  that  replaced  it  - this  contradicts  the 
notion  of  a linear  shift  to  a modernised,  nationalised  and  democratic  political  culture.  For  all 
that  local  issues  often  predominated  in  the  unreformed  system,  as  the  work  of  John  Brewer, 
Nicholas  Rogers  and  Kathleen  Wilson  has  made  clear,  urban  voters  were  also  aware  of 
national  and  even  international  issues.8 

What  is  not  clear  from  this  historiography  is  just  how  far  local  issues  continued  to  shape 
the  form  and  content  of  popular  politics  beyond  1832.  While  there  exists  an  older 
historiography  that  emphasised  the  parochial  and  locally-based  nature  of  Victorian  elections, 
it  was  more  concerned  with  exploring  the  structural  determinants  of  voting  behaviour  - 
such  as  religious  identity,  occupation  and  broader  loyalties  to  urban  elites  - rather  than  with 

4P.  F.  Clarke,  ‘Electoral  sociology  of  modern  Britain’,  History, , 57  (1972),  31-55;J.  P.  D.  Dunbabin, 
‘British  elections  in  the  19th  and  20th  centuries:  a regional  approach’,  English  Historical  Review, 
95  (1980),  241-67;  G.  Cox,  ‘The  development  of  a party-orientated  electorate  in  England,  1832— 
1918’,  British  Journal  of  Political  Science,  16  (1986),  187-216;  H.J.  Hanham,  Elections  and  Party 
Management  in  the  Age  of  Gladstone  and  Disraeli  (Hassocks,  1978  edn);  E.  Evans,  Political 
Parties  in  Britain  1783-1867  (London,  1985);  A.  Hawkins,  “‘Parliamentary  Government”  and 
Victorian  political  parties,  C.1830-C.1880’,  English  Historical  Review,  104  (1989),  638-69;  Phillips 
and  Wetherell,  ‘The  Great  Reform  Act’. 

5 F.  O’Gorman,  Voters,  Patrons  and  Parties:  the  unreformed  electorate  of  Hanoverian  England, 
1734-1832  (Oxford,  1989);  F.  O’Gorman,  ‘Campaign  rituals  and  ceremonies:  the  social  meaning 
of  elections  in  England,  1780-1860’,  Past  and  Present,  135  (1992),  79-115. 

6J.  Vernon,  Politics  and  the  People:  a study  in  English  political  culture,  c. 1815- 1867  (Cambridge, 
1993),  pp.  99,  163-4. 

7 R.  Sweet,  ‘Freemen  and  independence  in  English  borough  politics,  c.1770-1830’,  Past  and 
Present,  161  (1998),  84-115,  at  p.  84. 

8N.  Rogers,  Whigs  and  Cities:  popular  politics  in  the  age  of  Walpole  and  Pitt  (Oxford,  1989);  J. 
Brewer,  Party  Ideology  and  Popular  Politics  at  the  Accession  of  George  III  (Cambridge,  1976); 
K.  Wilson,  The  Sense  of  the  People:  politics,  culture  and  imperialism  in  England,  1715-1785 
(Cambridge,  1995). 



looking  at  the  role  of  civic  ideology.9  This  article  adopts  a case  study  approach  to  explore 
the  role  of  civic  and  political  ideologies  of  electoral  independence  (the  customary  means  by 
which  a constituency  liberated  itself  from  local  oligarchies  and  defended  its  local  privileges 
in  the  face  of  a centralising  state).  It  uses  electoral  politics  in  York  between  1865  and  1880, 
and,  more  specifically,  the  political  career  of  the  Tory  MP  James  Lowther,  to  illustrate  the 
continuing  importance  of  civic  and  provincial  loyalties  in  mid-Victorian  popular  politics.  It 
relies  heavily  on  the  Yorkshire  Gazette , a York-based  Tory  newspaper,  to  examine  the 
public  rhetoric  used  by  Lowther  and  the  Tories  on  the  electoral  platform  during  the  1860s 
and  1870s  - a period  for  which  historical  knowledge  of  urban  Conservatism  remains  limited, 
especially  beyond  Lancashire.10  By  locating  Lowther’s  platform  within  the  context  of 
eighteenth-century  electoral  independence  the  article  highlights  the  continuities  between 
Georgian  and  Victorian  popular  politics.  In  doing  so,  attention  is  drawn  to  the  contested 
and  fluid  nature  of  mid-Victorian  popular  politics.  Indeed,  the  success  of  Lowther  and  his 
brand  of  popular  Toryism  was  indicative  of  the  limits  to,  and  fragility  of,  the  so-called 
Liberal  hegemony  of  mid-Victorian  Britain. 


The  Parliamentary  borough  of  York  returned  two  MPs  to  the  House  of  Commons.11  In 
1841  the  borough  had  a population  of  30,152,  and  by  1871  this  had  increased  to  50,765. 12 
Despite  this  population  growth,  by  the  1830s  the  demographic  and  industrial  expansion  of 

9J.  Vincent,  Pollbooks:  how  Victorians  voted  (Cambridge,  1967);  T.J.  Nossiter,  Influence,  Opinion 
and  Political  Idioms  in  Reformed  England:  case  studies  from  the  North  East,  1832-1874 
(Hassocks,  1975);  P.  F.  Clarke,  ‘Electoral  sociology’.  For  a recent  critical  review  of  this  literature 
see  M.  Taylor,  ‘Interests,  parties  and  the  state:  the  urban  electorate  in  England,  c.  1820-72’,  in  J. 
Lawrence  and  M.  Taylor  (eds),  Party,  State  and  Society:  election  behaviour  in  Britain  since  1820 
(Aldershot,  1997),  pp.  50-78. 

I0J.  L.  Greenall,  ‘Popular  Conservatism  in  Salford,  1868-1886’,  Northern  History , 9 (1974),  1 23— 
138;  P.  Joyce,  Work,  Society  and  Politics:  the  culture  of  the  factory  in  later  Victorian  England 
(London,  1982),  esp.  ch.  8;  N.  Kirk,  Labour  and  Society  in  Britain  and  the  USA,  vol.  2:  Change 
and  Accommodation,  1850-1939  (Aldershot,  1994),  pp.  188-197;  D.  Walsh,  ‘Working-class 
political  integration  and  the  Conservative  party:  a study  of  class  relations  and  party  political 
development  in  the  North-West,  1800-1870’,  (unpublished  PhD  thesis,  University  of  Salford, 
1991).  Beyond  Lancashire  the  notable  exception  is  Jon  Lawrence’s  work  on  Wolverhampton. 
See  his  ‘Popular  politics  and  the  limitations  of  party:  Wolverhampton,  1867-1900’,  in  E.  F. 
Biagini  and  A.  J.  Reid  (eds),  Currents  of  Radicalism:  popular  radicalism,  organised  labour  and 
party  politics  in  Britain,  1850-1914  (Cambridge,  1991),  pp.  65-85. 

11  Each  elector  had  two  votes  which  he  could  use  in  one  of  four  ways:  by  casting  his  two  votes 
for  the  two  candidates  of  one  party  (a  ‘straight’);  by  giving  a single  vote  if  a party  fielded  only 
one  candidate  (a  partisan  ‘plump’),  thus  wasting  the  second  vote;  by  casting  one  vote  for  one 
candidate  of  each  party  (a  ‘split’);  or  he  could  cast  only  one  vote  (a  non-partisan  ‘plump’) 
despite  there  being  two  candidates  for  a particular  party.  Phillips  and  Wetherell,  ‘The  Great 
Reform  Act’,  pp.  416-17. 

Figures  cited  in  C.  H.  Feinstein,  ‘Population,  occupations  and  economic  development,  1831  — 
1981’,  in  C.  H.  Feinstein  (ed.),  York  1831-1981:  150  years  of  scientific  endeavour  and  social 
change  (York,  1981),  pp.  109-59,  at  p.  111. 



neighbouring  towns  was  outstripping  that  of  York.  Consequently,  the  city  was  thought  to  be 
in  a state  of  decline.  York  is  best  described  as  a medium-sized  borough  whose  population 
and  electorate  was  much  larger  than  the  so-called  ‘small-towns’,  such  as  nearby 
Knaresborough,  Northallerton  and  Richmond,  but  smaller  than  those  rapidly  expanding 
industrial  centres  to  be  found  in  the  West  Riding  and  over  the  Pennines.  In  this  respect  York 
was  similar  - economically,  socially  and  politically  - to  other  county,  cathedral  or  large 
market  towns  such  as  Bristol  and  Lancaster.  York  had  a fairly  broad  industrial  base.  In  1851 
it  had  three  main  sources  of  employment:  19.3  per  cent  of  the  population  were  employed  in 
manufacturing  (composed  mainly  of  handicrafts  and  small-scale  workshops);  the  next  largest 
sector  was  domestic  service  employing  17  per  cent;  and  14.8  per  cent  were  engaged  in 
making  and  dealing  in  clothes  and  shoes.  The  other  half  or  so  of  the  population  was  employed 
in  a variety  of  industries,  including  farming,  the  railways,  construction,  distribution  and  in 
the  professions.13  The  city  was  also  an  important  market  and  commercial  centre  serving  a 
large  agricultural  hinterland  that  penetrated  deep  into  the  North  and  East  Ridings.  In  terms 
of  its  politics,  York  was  a marginal  borough  throughout  the  nineteenth  century:  of  the 
seventeen  elections  that  took  place  between  1832  and  1885  on  only  two  occasions  did  one 
of  the  two  parties  win  both  seats.14 

The  impacts  of  both  the  1832  and  1867  Reform  Acts  on  York  were  not  as  far-reaching 
as  they  were  in  other  neighbouring  boroughs.  This  was  because  York  was  a pre-1832  borough 
in  which  many  adult  males  already  qualified  for  the  vote  as  freemen,  an  ancient  voting  right 
that  was  conferred  by  chartered  boroughs  on  those  connected  with  an  incorporated  trade. 
Between  1832  and  1867  borough  residents  could  qualify  for  the  vote  in  one  of  two  ways: 
either  through  the  occupation  of  a household  rated  at  a rental  value  of  £ 10  per  annum  and 
above,  or  by  the  possession  of  freeman  status.  Older  boroughs,  that  is  those  that  predated 
the  1832  Reform  Act,  such  as  York,  contained  both  types  of  voter,  whilst  the  new  boroughs, 
such  as  neighbouring  Leeds,  contained  only  the  new  £10  householders.15  The  freeman 
franchise  could  be  acquired  in  a number  of  ways.  Prior  to  the  1832  Reform  Act  local 
corporations  had  the  power  to  create  freemen,  a privilege  that  was  frequently  abused.  After 
1832  the  vote  could  be  acquired  either  through  inheritance  (sons  of  freemen  were  granted 
voting  rights  at  the  age  of  21 ) or  through  servitude  (a  seven  year  apprenticeship  to  a freeman 
brought  the  privilege).16  The  1832  Reform  Act  abolished  only  the  voting  rights  of  all  non- 
resident freemen,  future  honorary  freemen  or  freemen  by  marriage.1"  Neither  was  it  a voting 
right  that  was  limited  to  those  who  did  not  qualify  as  £ 10  householders  - the  new  franchise 
qualification  introduced  by  the  Reform  Act.  As  Philip  Salmon  has  shown,  in  a number  of 
boroughs  there  were  electors  who  qualified  both  as  £10  householders  and  as  ancient-right 
voters  and  that  many  of  these  dual-qualifiers  opted  for  the  latter  voting  right  because  it  was 

13  Feinstein,  ‘Population,  occupations  and  economic  development’,  p.  122. 

14  This  was  in  1832  and  1880  when  the  Liberals  won  both  of  the  York  seats. 

15  Taylor,  ‘Interests,  parties  and  the  state’,  p.  55. 

16  On  the  operation  of  the  freeman  franchise  see:  C.  Seymour,  Electoral  Reform  in  England  and 
Wales:  the  development  and  operation  of  the  parliamentary  franchise  1832-1885  (London, 
1915),  pp.  27-8;  and  for  a more  recent  and  authoritative  account  see  Philip  Salmon,  Electoral 
Reform  at  Work:  local  politics  and  national  parties,  1832-1841  (Woodbridge,  2002),  pp  200-6. 

17  Salmon,  Electoral  Reform  at  Work , p.  203. 



‘not  dependent  upon  prompt  rate  payment  or  the  1 5.  registration  fee’  as  was  the  case  with  the 
householder  qualification.18  It  would,  therefore,  be  wrong  to  exaggerate  the  decline  of  the 
freemen  electors,  especially  in  York.  Whilst  78.3  per  cent  of  York  electors  qualified  as 
freemen  in  1836,  by  1866  some  54.4  per  cent  of  York’s  electorate  was  still  composed  of 
freemen  - the  third  highest  in  England.19 

Consequently,  there  was  a relatively  large  body  of  enfranchised  skilled  artisans,  who  were 
employed  chiefly  in  handicrafts  and  small-scale  workshops.  Since  many  had  exercised  this 
voting  right  under  the  ‘unreformed’  system,  the  effects  of  the  1832  Reform  Act  were  negligible. 
At  the  time  of  the  1830  general  election  there  were  over  3,000  registered  electors  in  York, 
and  after  the  Reform  Act  the  York  electorate  stood  at  2,873.  If  anything,  the  Reform  Act  may 
have  contracted  the  electorate:  at  the  1830  general  election  the  two  leading  candidates 
between  them  secured  3,837  votes;  in  1832  this  figure  had  fallen  to  2,645  - out  of  electorate 
of  2,873,  which  hardly  suggests  that  a low  turn  out  in  1832  was  responsible  for  the 
contraction.20  The  1867  Reform  Act  had  more  of  an  impact  on  York  relative  to  1832,  but  not 
relative  to  elsewhere.  Whereas  the  electorate  of  Leeds  was  more  than  quadrupled  by  the 
1867  Reform  Act,  at  York  it  was  little  more  than  doubled.  By  1861  42.4  per  cent  of  adult 
males  were  registered  to  vote  in  York,  second  only  to  Coventry  with  51.6  per  cent.21  Indeed, 
there  was  no  contraction  of  the  York  electorate  between  the  Reform  Acts  of  1832  and  1867. 
Again,  this  was  comparable  with  other  freemen  boroughs  where  the  local  economy  was 
predominantly  based  on  incorporated  trades,  such  as  Coventry,  Nottingham  and  Preston, 
although  the  freeman  vote  did  begin  to  fall  away  in  the  two  latter  places  from  the  1840s 
which  was  in  line  with  the  overall  national  contraction  of  the  electorate  between  1832  and 

Thus,  when  the  youngjames  Lowther  (aged  twenty-five)  arrived  at  York  in  the  summer  of 
1865,  there  existed  a long-standing  political  culture  that  was  just  as  ‘participatory,  partisan, 
and  popular’  as  the  unreformed  system  of  Hanoverian  England.23  More  specifically,  there 
was  a strong  local  tradition  of  support  for  the  Conservative  party,  which  was  underpinned 
by  a broad-based  coalition  composed  of  middle-class  Anglicans,  local  gentry  and  artisans. 
Lowther  had  been  invited  to  York  in  consequence  of  the  resignation  of  Colonel  J.  G.  Smyth, 
who  had  represented  York  in  the  Tory  interest  since  1847.  At  first  glance,  Lowther  was  a 
surprising  and  most  unlikely  figure  to  be  at  the  centre  of  a participatory  popular  politics. 
Born  in  1840,  he  was  the  younger  son  of  Sir  Charles  Hugh  Lowther,  of  Swillington  House, 
Leeds.  His  father  was  the  head  of  a younger  branch  of  the  Lonsdale  family,  and  Lowther 

IH  Salmon,  Electoral  Reform  at  Work,  pp.  200-1. 

19  Taylor,  ‘Interests,  parties  and  the  state’,  pp.  58-9. 

20  Figures  taken  from  The  Times , 31  July  and  6 August  1830;  F.  S.  W.  Craig,  British  Parliamentary 
Election  Results,  1832-1885  (2nd  edn,  Aldershot,  1989),  p.  346. 

21  Taylor,  ‘Interests,  parties  and  the  state’,  pp.  58-9. 

22  Taylor,  ‘Interests,  parties  and  the  state’,  p.  60.  It  has  been  argued  that  the  contraction  of  the 
electorate  was  not  due  to  the  1832  Reform  Act  itself,  which  actually  opened  up  many  new 
possibilities  for  public  participation.  Rather,  as  Mark  Park  has  argued,  it  ‘was  largely  the  result  of 
people  voluntarily  deciding  not  to  participate’.  See  his:  ‘Aspects  of  the  English  electoral  system, 
1800-50:  with  special  reference  to  Yorkshire’,  (unpublished  PhD  thesis,  University  of  York, 
1995),  p.  75.  Clearly,  York  was  also  the  exception  to  this  trend. 

23  O’Gorman,  Voters,  Parties  and  Patrons,  p.  393. 



himself  was  the  grandnephew  of  the  first  Earl  of  Lonsdale.  The  epitome  of  a traditional  and 
defiant  Toryism,  throughout  his  life  Lowther  ‘championed  the  uncompromising  principles 
of  conservatism  in  which  he  was  bred’.24  He  was  firmly  identified,  by  birth  and  temperament, 
with  the  Tory  country  gentleman.25  So  defiant  was  his  Toryism  that  he  was  credited  with 
being  the  originator  of  the  mischievous  tactics  of  parliamentary  obstruction  - tactics  which 
the  Irish  members  were  quick  to  imitate.26  His  maiden  speech  in  Parliament  was  delivered 
in  opposition  to  the  abortive  1866  Reform  Bill,  and  for  a time  he  thought  seriously  about 
voting  against  Disraeli’s  1867  Reform  Bill  until  his  uncle’s  influence  prevailed  on  him  to 
accept  the  measure,  but  not  before  he  made  some  disparaging  remarks  about  Disraeli.27 
Recalling  a train  journey  he  had  taken  with  Lowther  in  1887,  Alfred  Pease,  York’s  future 
Liberal  MP,  gave  the  following  character  assessment  of  Lowther: 

Travelled  north  with  Jim  Lowther  who  was  regarded  as  the  chief  of  the  remaining  real 
Tories. ..He  is  very  good  company.  The  conversation  was  chiefly  on  racing,  turf  problems  and 
the  prize  ring.. .He  was  on  his  way  to  a Primrose  League28  meeting.  He  damned  the  Primrose 
League  with  many  expletives  as  a “dangerous  innovation”  and  referred  to  Beaconsfield  as  “that 
damned  Jew,  Dizzy.28 

Lowther  was  certainly  no  Tory  Democrat  and  there  appeared  to  be  little  about  him  that 
would  endear  him  to  a popular  electorate.  Little  was  known  of  him  when  he  came  to  York, 
save  for  his  family  name.  His  uncle,  John  Henry  Lowther,  had  represented  the  borough  in 
the  Tory  interest  from  1835  to  1848,  thereby  forging  a political  connection  between  the 
family  and  the  borough.  Yet  for  all  that  the  young  Lowther  could  trade  on  his  family  name, 
few  could  have  predicted  the  outcome  of  the  1865  election.  Against  all  expectations,  and  in 
defiance  of  the  national  trend,  he  was  returned  at  the  head  of  the  poll  securing  2,079  votes, 
beating  by  225  votes  George  Leeman  - the  local  Liberal  solicitor  and  railway  promoter  - 
who  took  the  second  seat  and  in  the  process  unseated  the  sitting  Liberal  member,  Brown- 
Westhead,  a Manchester  manufacturer  turned  Worcestershire  gentleman,  who  had 
represented  York  since  1857.30  Even  more  remarkable  was  that  Lowther  repeated  the  coup 

24  James  Lowther  (1840-1904)’,  in  [DJictionary  of [Njational [Bjiography  1901  -191 1 (Oxford,  1920), 
pp.  482-4,  at  p.  482. 

25  E.  J.  Feuchtwanger,  Disraeli,  Democracy  and  the  Tory  party:  Conservative  leadership  and 
organisation  after  the  Second  Reform  Bill  (Oxford,  1968),  p.  70. 

26  Feuchtwanger,  Disraeli,  Democracy  and  the  Tory  party , p.  237. 

27  ‘Lowther’,  DNB,  pp.  482-3. 

28  The  Primrose  League,  a voluntary  organisation  established  in  November  1883  in  honour  of 
Disraeli’s  memory.  Its  objective  was  the  promotion  of  Tory  principles  among  the  masses  ‘viz.  the 
maintenance  of  religion,  of  the  estates  of  the  realm,  and  of  the  Imperial  Ascendancy  of  Great 
Britain’.  On  the  Primrose  League  see:  M.  Pugh,  The  Tories  and  the  People  1880-1935  (Oxford, 

29  A.  E.  Pease,  Elections  and  Recollections  (London,  1932),  pp.  191-2. 

30  The  voting  was  as  follows  (figures  from  York  Poll  Book,  1865.  Published  by  John  Brown  (York, 
1865),  p.  6): 

Lowther  plumpers:  1,919  Leeman  plumpers:  22 

splits  with  Leeman:  106  splits  with  Lowther:  106 

splits  with  Westhead:  52  splits  with  Westhead:  716 

2,077  (decl.  poll  was  2,079)  1,844  (decl.  poll  was  1,854) 

Westhead  plumpers:  3 
splits  with  Leeman:  1,7 16 
splits  with  Lowther:  52 
1,781  (decl.  poll  was  1,792) 



at  the  1868  general  election  when  he  actually  increased  his  majority  at  an  election  that  was 
the  first  to  take  place  after  the  enfranchisement  of  all  rate-paying  adult  male  occupiers  in  the 
boroughs,  after  the  1867  Reform  Act.  Lowther  headed  the  poll  with  3,735  votes,  followed  by 
Brown-Westhead  who  took  the  second  seat  with  3,279  votes,  beating  off  John  Hall  Gladstone, 
a distant  relative  of  the  Liberal  leader,  who  was  nominated  instead  of  Leeman  - the  latter 
having  retired  due  to  ill-health.31  For  all  that  the  1868  general  election  witnessed  the  triumph 
of  Liberalism  across  the  nation,  it  was  a qualified  triumph  in  that  the  election  also  revealed 
pockets  of  working-class  Conservatism  - pockets  that  had  been  growing  in  strength 
throughout  the  1860s,  and  not  just  in  Lancashire,  as  the  York  victories  testified.  Even  in 
neighbouring  Leeds,  which  was  regarded  as  a Liberal  stronghold,  the  Conservative  candidate 
topped  the  poll  at  the  1865  general  election  and,  while  their  candidate  was  relegated  to  third 
place  in  1868,  the  Conservatives  nevertheless  tripled  their  share  of  the  popular  vote.32  How 
were  the  Conservatives  able  to  achieve  their  electoral  coup  in  York? 

The  participatory  and  partisan  nature  of  the  York  electorate  begins  to  cast  doubt  on  the 
applicability  of  conventional  interpretations  of  mid-Victorian  election  behaviour.  There 
was  little  that  was  sleepy  and  insular  about  the  York  electorate,  and  neither  was  it  riddled 
with  corruption  or  controlled  by  influential  patrons  - characteristics  which  were  thought 
until  recently  to  be  the  hallmarks  of  politics  in  ancient  boroughs  in  mid-Victorian  Britain.33 
There  had  been  a highly  developed  sense  of  party  in  York  since  the  early  nineteenth  century, 
if  not  before,  when  those  excluded  from  the  town’s  public  affairs  (mostly  Tories)  challenged 
the  Whigs  who  controlled  the  old  closed  borough  corporation.34  This  partisanship  fuelled, 
and  was  fuelled  by,  regular  parliamentary  and  municipal  contests.  The  high  level  of 
partisanship  was  evident:  at  the  1865  general  election  only  4.1  per  cent  of  the  electorate  split 
their  votes  between  the  two  parties;  the  figures  in  1868  and  1880  were  only  3.4  per  cent  and 
4.6  per  cent  respectively.35 

Similarly,  as  research  on  the  reformed  electoral  system  has  convincingly  demonstrated,  it 
is  unlikely  that  bribery  determined  voter  allegiance  on  any  significant  scale  since  ‘treating’ 
was  an  integral  part  of  electioneering,  with  both  Conservatives  and  Liberals  participating. 
As  John  Markham  has  argued  in  his  study  of  nineteenth-century  elections  in  East  Yorkshire, 
‘voters  saw  it  as  right  and  natural  that  they  should  be  recompensed  for  their  support’  and 

31  The  voting  was  as  follows  (figures  from  York  Poll  Book,  1868.  Published  by  John  Brown  (York, 

1868),  p.  6): 

Lowther  plumpers:  3,504  Gladstone  plumpers:  5 Westhead  plumpers:  59 

splits  with  Gladstone:  22  splits  with  Lowther:  22  splits  with  Gladstone:  3,01 1 

splits  with  Westhead:  209  splits  with  Westhead:  3,011  splits  with  Lowther:  22 

3,735  3,038  3,279 

32  For  Leeds  see  M.  Roberts,  ‘Villa  Toryism  and  popular  Conservatism  in  Leeds,  1885-1902’, 
Historical  Journal \ 49  (forthcoming,  2006). 

33  E.  Jaggard,  ‘Small  town  politics  in  mid-Victorian  Britain’,  History. , 89  (2004),  3-29. 

34  A.  Peacock,  ‘George  Leeman  and  York  politics,  1833-1880’,  in  Feinstein  (ed.),  York  1831- 
1981 , pp.  234-54,  at  p.  234. 

35  Figures  calculated  from  the  1865  and  1868  York  Poll  Books  and  the  YG , 10  April  1880. 
Partisanship  was  also  markedly  high  in  ‘unreformed’  York:  at  the  1818  general  election  only  3 
per  cent  of  electors  had  split  their  votes.  (O’Gorman,  Voters,  Patrons  and  Parties , p.  370). 



that  ‘corrupt  practices  brought  no  more  than  a marginal  advantage  to  any  one  party’.36  There 
is  evidence  to  suggest  that  both  parties  in  York  resorted  to  forms  of  intimidation  and 
corruption,  and  there  were  accusations  and  counter-accusations  that  each  side  had 
‘purchased’  support.  In  the  aftermath  of  the  1865  general  election  it  was  alleged  that  Brown- 
Westhead,  the  Liberal  candidate,  had  spent  large  sums  of  money  buying  votes,  but  this  had 
not  prevented  Lowther  from  topping  the  poll.3/  In  1868  the  Liberals  believed  that  they  had 
been  victims  of  immoral  and  illegal  influences.  The  Liberal  York  Herald w as  of  the  view  that 
Lowther’s  support  ‘has  been  found  through  gold  and  silver,  through  intimidation,  and  through 
Bacchanalian  revelry’.38  The  Liberals  lodged  a petition  with  Parliament  to  have  Lowther 
removed,  but  this  came  to  nothing  due  to  lack  of  evidence.39  The  limits  of  ‘corruption’  were 
demonstrated  at  the  1880  general  election  when  Lowther  was  defeated  despite  having  officially 
spent  over  £4,390,  the  equivalent  of  over  one  pound  for  each  vote.40  Alfred  Pease  later 
recalled  that  Lowther,  in  an  attempt  to  dissuade  Pease  from  spending  any  money  on  his  York 
constituents,  had  told  him  that  the  1880  election  had  cost  him  over  £7,000.41  Corruption 
was  at  best  a lubricant  that  oiled  the  electoral  machinery. 

What  then  of  explanations  based  on  religion?  In  a city  where  the  Church  of  England  was 
the  strongest  of  the  religious  denominations  - nearly  half  of  York’s  church-going  population, 
according  to  the  1851  Religious  Census,  went  to  Church  as  opposed  to  Chapel  - one  has  to 
conclude  that  Lowther  must  have  benefited  from  the  Conservative  party’s  image  as  the 
defender  of  the  Church.42  However,  the  Anglican  community  were  neither  a self-sufficient 
constituency  of  electoral  support,  nor  was  it  innately  Conservative.  There  was  a strong 
minority  tradition  in  York  of  Anglican  support  for  the  Liberal  party,  despite  the  latter’s 
increasing  association  with  Nonconformity,  both  nationally  and  in  York.43  In  addition, 
although  York  was  identified  with  the  Church  of  England  through  its  Cathedral,  its  position 
in  the  diocese  and  northern  Province,  it  is  important  not  to  exaggerate  the  power  of 
Anglicanism.  Granted,  the  Church  of  England  was  by  far  the  largest  single  denomination, 
but  it  was  relatively  weak  when  compared  with  other  similar  towns.  Nonetheless,  defence  of 
the  Established  Church  was  undoubtedly  a central  plank  in  Lowther’s  platform.  This  took 
the  form  of  opposition  to  the  abolition  of  church  rates  in  1865,  to  the  disestablishment  of 
the  Irish  Church  in  1868  and  to  the  supposed  threat  to  denomination  schools  in  1874,  along 
with  a more  general  defence  of  the  ‘National  Church’  in  the  face  of  secularists,  atheists  and 
disestablishmentarians.44  Yet  for  all  the  emphasis  that  Lowther  and  the  Tories  placed  on 
religious  issues,  it  would  be  easy  to  exaggerate  their  importance  as  determinants  of  voting 
behaviour.  For  example,  having  personally  conducted  a canvass  of  the  York  electors  prior  to 
the  1868  election,  Lowther  remarked  that  very  few  voters  troubled  themselves  about  the 

36 J.  Markham,  Nineteenth-century  Parliamentary  Elections  in  East  Yorkshire  (Beverley,  1982), 
pp.  4 and  41. 

37  Peacock,  ‘George  Leeman’,  pp.  248-50. 

38  York  Herald  [ YH\,  21  Nov.  1868. 

39  Peacock,  ‘George  Leeman’,  p.  250. 

40  Feuchtwanger,  Disraeli,  Democracy  and  the  Tory  party,  p.  205. 

41  Pease,  Recollections,  p.  141. 

42  Figures  calculated  from  H.  Mann,  Religious  Worship  in  England  and  Wales  (London,  1854). 

43  YG,  31  Jan.  1874. 

44  YG,  8 Apr.  1865;  8 Aug.  1868;  31  Jan.  1874. 



impending  disestablishment  of  the  Irish  Church,  but  as  if  to  counter,  it  was  remarked  upon 
by  the  Liberals  that  working  men  seemed  fully  conversant  with  the  issue.45  Either  way, 
Lowther’s  election  victories  were  hardly  tantamount  to  an  endorsement  of  Disraeli’s  attempt 
to  put  the  Established  Church  at  the  centre  of  popular  politics.46  Given  the  working-class 
bias  of  the  York  electorate,  allied  to  the  fact  that  Anglicanism  in  York,  as  was  the  case 
elsewhere,  was  disproportionately  middle  class,  it  is  fair  to  conclude  that  Lowther  secured 
significant  working-class  support  for  reasons  other  than  religious  affiliation,  which  was  at 
best  only  one  aspect  of  popular  political  identity.47  As  C.  S.  Ford  has  argued  in  relation  to 
south-east  Lancashire  - an  area  that  was  previously  thought  to  be  the  epitome  of  sectarian 
Conservatism  - ‘the  Conservative  party  was  concerned  to  widen  its  base  and  not  to  be 
associated  by  the  electorate  exclusively  with  the  Church  of  England’.48  Similarly,  revisionist 
work  on  Liverpool  has  concluded  that:  ‘It  is  surprisingly  difficult  to  locate  any  explicit 
appeal  to  sectarian  identities  within  the  formal  political  discourse  of  Liverpool  Conserv  atism 
during  the  late  nineteenth  century.’49  Lowther’s  bigotry  aside,  when  he  first  came  before  the 
York  electorate  in  1865  he  ‘wished  it  to  be  distinctly  understood  that,  although  a Churchman, 
he  was  in  favour  of  perfect  civil  and  religious  liberty,  and  free  toleration  to  all  sects  and 
creeds’.50  At  the  1880  general  election  Lowther,  by  then  Irish  Chief  Secretary  in  the 
Conservative  government,  was  urging  the  English  and  the  Irish  to  come  together  ‘without 
distinction  of  class  and  race,  without  distinction  of  nations,  [to]  lend  a helping  hand  to 
Ireland’.51  While  this  may  have  been  little  more  than  specious  rhetoric,  there  is  little  evidence 
to  suggest  that  Lowther  tapped  into  the  tradition  of  anti-Irish  and  anti-Catholic  prejudice 
that  existed  in  the  city,  a prejudice  that  had  grown  in  response  to  the  arrival  of  post-famine 
Irish  migrants  in  the  1840s  and  1850s.52 


Clearly,  any  account  of  Lowther’s  election  victories  which  omitted  the  instrumental  role 
of  corruption  and  religious  sectarianism  would  be  incomplete.  Nevertheless,  it  would  be 
unduly  reductionist  to  suggest  that  he  and  the  Tories  were  passive  beneficiaries  of  these 
factors,  or  of  a more  general  innate  Conservatism.  Lowther’s  election  victories  were  based 
on  his  ability  to  construct  a broad-based  coalition  of  voters,  which,  above  all,  was  cemented 

45  The  Times , 9 Nov.  1868;  YG,  21  Nov.  1868. 

46  On  this  strategy  see:  A.  J.  Warren,  ‘Disraeli,  the  Conservatives  and  the  National  Church, 
1837-1881’,  inj.  P.  Parry  and  S.  Taylor  (eds.),  Parliament  and  the  Church,  1529- 1960  (Edinburgh, 
2000),  pp.  96-117. 

47  On  the  middle-class  bias  of  Anglicanism  in  York  see:  E.  Royle,  ‘Religion  in  York,  1831-1981’, 
in  Feinstein  (ed.),  York  1831-1981 , pp.  205-33,  at  p.  208. 

48  C.  S.  Ford,  Pastors  and  Polemicists:  the  character  of  popular  Anglicanism  in  south-east 
Lancashire  (Manchester,  2002),  p.  125. 

49  Sandra  O’Leary,  ‘Re-thinking  popular  Conservatism  in  Liverpool:  democracy  and  reform  in 
the  later  nineteenth  century’,  in  Michael  Turner  (ed.),  Reform  and  Reformers  in  nineteenth- 
century  Britain  (Sunderland,  2004),  pp.  157-174,  at  p.  159. 

50  YG,  8 April  1865. 

51  The  Times,  20  Mar.  1880. 

52F.  Finnegan,  Poverty  and  Prejudice:  a study  of  Irish  immigrants  in  York  1840-1875  (Cork,  1982). 



by  an  appeal  to  civic  ideologies  of  independence  and  by  defending  local  privileges.  What  is 
particularly  striking  about  this  platform  was  that  it  drew  on,  and  reworked,  eighteenth- 
century  traditions  of  electoral  independence.  In  particular,  this  platform  represented 
something  of  an  attenuated  ‘country-party’  ideology,  albeit  one  that  assumed  a distinctly 
Tory  and  Yorkshire  form.53  The  country-party  ideology,  originally  developed  by  opposition 
Whigs  and  later  adopted  by  the  Anglican  Tory  squirearchy,  was  the  response  by  these  groups 
to  their  exclusion  from  power  by  the  party  of  the  ‘court’  who  were  the  exclusive  recipients 
of  royal  patronage.  At  its  broadest  level,  this  ideology  also  denoted  a preference  for  the 
simplicity  and  virtues  of  provincial  and  rural  England,  a corresponding  hostility  towards  the 
corrupting  influences  of ‘city  vice’,  trade  and  manufacture,  and  a general  resistance  to  the 
centralising  and  monopolising  designs  of  cosmopolitan  Whiggery.  Thus,  country-party 
ideology  underpinned  notions  of  electoral  independence:  ‘the  customary  means  by  which  a 
constituency  sought  to  emancipate  itself  from  local  electoral  oligarchy.’54  The  electoral  virtue 
of  this  ‘country’  patriotism  was  its  flexibility  and  inclusiveness:  this  was  originally  an  anti- 
party creed  that  was  drawn  upon  by  the  whole  political  spectrum.55  It  was  drawn  on  and 
adapted  by  radicals  such  as  John  Wilkes,  Sir  Francis  Burdett,  Henry  Hunt  and  Feargus 
O’Connor  in  their  various  crusades  against  ‘Old  Corruption’.  It  also  informed  the  Tory- 
Radicalism  of  Richard  Oastler  and  Michael  Sadler  in  their  campaigns  against  ‘factory  slavery’ 
and  the  New  Poor  Law.  Arguably,  it  was  this  same  ideology  that  fed  into  the  powerful 
popular  suspicion  of  party  organisation,  ‘wire-pullers’  and  political  cliques  that  characterised 
Victorian  popular  politics.56 

Whilst  one  would  not  want  to  push  the  analogy  too  far,  there  are  definite  echoes  of  this 
‘country-party’  ideology  in  Lowther’s  platform.  Lowther  himself  had  something  of  the 
independent  northern  country  gentleman  about  him.  As  The  Times  obituary  noted  of  him: 
‘He  had  the  gift  of  plain  speech,  and,  in  a colloquial  phrase,  “a  rough  side  to  his  tongue”  ...  if 
his  opinions  were  of  the  old-world  cast,  they  were  honestly  held,  with  the  rugged  sincerity  of 
a nature  very  typical  of  the  north-country  breed  from  which  he  sprang’.5"  His  independent 
stance  in  Parliament  and  his  stubbornness  was  certainly  no  detriment  to  his  popularity  with 
his  supporters.  Indeed,  it  was  independence  that  was  valued  above  all  else,  and  underpinned 
civic  ideology,  which  fed  into  ‘country-party’  ideology.  Independence  entailed  rejection  of 
servility  and  denoted  generalised  opposition  to  oligarchy.  Thus,  as  Rosemary  Sweet  argues, 
civic  ideologies  of  independence  drew  strength  from  a belief  in  the  constitutional  importance 
of  boroughs  and  their  chartered  privileges,  especially  those  pertaining  to  freemen,  and  drew 
upon  local  pride  and  a sense  of  inherited  rights  and  status.58 

53  On  the  country-party  ideology  see:  H.  T.  Dickinson,  Liberty  and  Property:  political  ideology 
in  eighteenth-century  Britain  (London,  1977),  ch.  5. 

54  M.  McCormack,  ‘Metropolitan  “radicalism”  and  electoral  independence,  1760-1820’,  in  M. 
Cragoe  and  A.  Taylor  (eds.),  London  Politics  1760-1918  (Palgrave,  2005),  pp.  18-37,  at  pp.  21-22. 

55  See  Robert  Harris,  Politics  and  the  Nation:  Britain  in  the  mid-eighteenth  century  (Oxford,  2002). 

56  For  this  anti-party  spirit  as  an  aspect  of  Victorian  popular  politics  see:  Lawrence,  ‘Popular 
politics  and  the  limitations  of  party:  Wolverhampton,  1867-1900’;  J.  Lawrence,  Speaking  for  the 
People:  party,  language  and  popular  politics  in  England,  1867-1914  (Cambridge,  1998),  ch.  7. 

57  The  Times , 13  Sept.  1904. 

58  Sweet,  English  borough  politics’,  pp.  87-8. 



This  ‘country’  platform  therefore  went  beyond  Lowther’s  personal  character  traits. 
The  York  Tories,  and  Lowther  in  particular,  were  keen  to  present  themselves  as  the  excluded 
‘under-dog’,  as  the  crusaders  for  ‘fair  play’  in  the  face  of  local  Liberal  tyranny  The  Liberals, 
it  was  argued,  were  always  unfairly  trying  to  monopolise  the  representation  of  York  for 
themselves,  and  the  1865  and  1868  general  elections  were  no  exception.  Introducing  Lowther 
in  1865,  Mr  Husband,  the  chairman  of  Lowther’s  election  committee,  asked  the  York  Tories 
‘whether  they  should  consent  to  be  put  down,  or  whether  they  should  manfully  assert  their 
privilege  of  being  represented’.59  Similarly,  at  the  1868  election  Lowther  indignantly 
remarked  that  ‘the  Conservatives  have  a fair  right  to  possess  one  part  of  the  representation 
of  this  city,  they  ask  for  no  more,  and  they  will  accept  no  less’.60  In  the  context  of  York  this 
was  not  merely  empty  rhetoric.  The  association  between  Conservatism  and  fair  play  had  a 
particular  poignancy  in  York  where  the  Conservative  party  had  never  been  as  identified 
locally  with  unjust  privilege  and  oligarchy  as  was  the  case  in  places  such  as  Leeds  and 
Sheffield.  This  was  to  be  explained  by  developments  at  the  level  of  municipal  politics.  In 
contrast  to  Leeds  and  Sheffield  where  the  Municipal  Corporations  Act  of  1835  had  ended 
years  of  local  Tory  domination,  at  York  the  Act  broke  the  monopoly  of  the  Whigs  and  gave 
power  to  the  Tories.61  Whilst  the  Conservatives,  under  George  Hudson,  the  fraudulent 
‘Railway  King’,  came  to  dominate  council  politics  from  1835  to  1856,  their  previous  and 
subsequent  exclusion  from  the  city’s  affairs  allowed  the  Tories  to  present  themselves  as  the 
underdog  and  the  defender  of  popular  rights  against  the  tyrannical  and  oligarchic  tendencies 
of  Liberalism.  By  the  early  1860s  the  mantle  of  Hudson  had  passed  to  George  Leeman,  the 
undisputed  leader  of  the  York  Liberals,  who  ‘held  complete  sway  over  the  corporation’.62 
Leeman  and  his  clique  thus  became  the  target  of  Tory  and  Radical  criticism.  This  opposition 
was  articulated  in  a local  and  county  idiom. 

Lowther,  by  articulating  his  political  appeal  in  a language  that  stressed  the  virtues  of 
straightforwardness,  independence,  self-help,  freedom,  fairness  and  honesty,  was  able  to 
fashion  a distinctly  Yorkshire  Conservatism  that  identified  Liberalism  as  tyrannical, 
duplicitous  and  centralising:  in  short,  as  anti-Yorkshire.  It  was  Lowther’s  connections  with 
the  county  that  were  emphasised.  As  a Yorkshireman,  he  claimed  to  be  ‘deeply  attached  by 
old  association’  to  York  and  his  priority  would  be  to  attend  to  the  city’s  local  interests.63  The 
York  Tories  had  a tradition  of  selecting  county  gentlemen  as  a means  of  preserving  the 
historic  link  between  York  and  Yorkshire.  Extolling  the  virtues  of  Lowther’s  status  as  a 
county  gentleman,  Mr  Husband  reminded  the  electors  that:  ‘In  former  days  they  had  been 
represented  by  Cavendish,  by  Sykes,  by  Petre,  by  Dundas,  by  Lowther  - (cheers)  - and 
latterly  by  Colonel  Smyth’  and  ‘the  Liberal  party  may  say  what  they  liked,  but  he  contended 
that  it  was  of  importance  to  the  city  to  keep  up  the  connection  with  the  county’.64  The 
attempt  to  preserve  the  link  between  York  and  Yorkshire  also  represented  an  attack  on  ‘the 

59  YG,  8 Apr.  1865. 

60  YG,  21  Nov.  1868. 

61  Peacock,  ‘George  Leeman’,  p.  234. 

62  Peacock,  ‘George  Leeman’,  p.  244. 

63  YG,  1 July  1865. 

64  YG,  8 Apr.  1865. 



back  parlour  clique’,65  as  Lowther  called  Leeman  and  his  followers,  or  the  ‘Quaker  Junta’,66 
as  they  were  also  known  in  radical  circles.  Here  the  Tories  cast  themselves  as  the  country- 
party  in  opposition  to  the  Liberal  clique  who  dominated  York  politics.  In  particular,  it  was 
the  re-nomination  of  Mr  Brown-Westhead  in  1865  and  again  in  1868,  that  Lowther  and  the 
Tories  found  objectionable.  For  all  that  Brown-Westhead  had  previously  represented  York 
for  seven  years  this  did  little  in  Lowther’s  eyes  to  alter  Brown-Westhead ’s  illegitimate  political 
birth  as  a carpet-bagger.  Who  was  this  Westhead,  Lowther  asked?  ‘He  has  no  identity  with, 
or  interest  in,  the  city  of  York,  and  never  visits  it  except  to  partake  of  a city  banquet.’67  It  had 
been  determined,  Lowther  went  on,  ‘by  the  back  parlour  clique  that  nobody  directly  or 
indirectly  connected  with  Yorkshire  should  be  a member  for  the  city’.68  The  Tory  Yorkshire 
Gazette  chastised  the  York  Liberals  for  having  the  sagacity  ‘to  refuse  the  services  of  two  or 
three  Yorkshire  gentlemen  because  their  political  views  did  not  quite  harmonise  with  the 
crotchets  of  the  Whig-Radical  school  in  York’.69  As  such,  Lowther  appealed  to  all  those  who 
‘abhor  local  tyranny  of  any  kind’  to  ‘rally  round  the  Conservative  standard’.70 

At  the  1865  election  Lowther’s  local  claims  to  representation  did  not  go  uncontested 
since  this  was  also  the  occasion  when  George  Leeman,  the  popular  local  railway  director, 
also  stood  for  election  in  the  Liberal  interest.  ‘Citizen  Leeman’,  as  a local  employer,  civic 
dignitary  and  philanthropist,  had  strong  local  and  popular  credentials  with  the  York  electorate. 
Both  Leeman  and  Brown-Westhead  stood  on  a vague  platform  of ‘peace,  retrenchment  and 
reform’/1  Yet  for  all  that  Leeman  could  lay  claim  to  being  a ‘York  man,  born  and  bred’,72  the 
Conservatives  countered  these  claims  and  targeted  Leeman  as  the  epitome  of  Liberal 
dictation.  The  Gazette  accused  him  of  intimidating  his  employees  at  the  railways  works.73 
In  addition,  Leeman  was  held  responsible  for  the  £35,000  of  debt  that  had  been  incurred  in 
the  building  of  Lendal  Bridge:  unnecessary  expenditure  since  George  Hudson  had  offered, 
it  was  claimed,  to  pay  for  the  bridge  out  of  his  own  pocket.  The  Gazette  was  indignant  that 
Leeman,  having  dictated  to  the  city  in  the  matter  of  Lendal  Bridge  ‘now  seeks  to  dictate  in 
the  election’.74  In  addition  to  presenting  themselves  as  the  liberal  alternative  to  the  dictates 
of  Leeman  and  the  Liberals,  the  Conservatives  also  attempted  to  turn  Leeman’s  local 
credentials  against  him  by  suggesting  that  his  desire  to  enter  parliament  suggested  that  he 
was  deserting  York,  as  if  he  had  somehow  outgrown  the  city:  ‘Like  many  a Town  Councillor 
and  local  celebrity,  Mr.  Alderman  Leeman  is  an  exceedingly  ambitious  man.  He  wants  his 
light  to  shine  before  men  in  a more  extended  sphere  than  York  is  ever  likely  to  afford  him.’75 
As  seen  here,  in  this  rather  specious  rhetoric,  for  Lowther  and  the  Tories  it  was  not  just 



14  Nov.  1868. 



3 Oct.  1868. 



1 July  1865. 



14  Nov.  1868. 



21  Nov.  1868. 



1 July  1865. 



8 Apr.  1865. 



1 July  1865. 



8 July  1865. 



1 July  1865. 



1 July  1865. 



about  possessing  local  credentials,  but  the  right  kind  of  local  credentials.  In  Tory  eyes, 
Leeman  was  parochial.  The  Gazette  concluded  that  there  were  ‘too  many  railway  directors 
in  Parliament,  and  far  too  many  local  celebrities’.75 

The  1868  general  election  witnessed  Lowther  and  the  York  Conservative  party 
monopolise  the  politics  of  locality  to  an  unprecedented  degree  when  the  Liberals  nominated 
two  ‘carpet-bagger’  candidates.  Brown-West  he  ad  was  again  nominated,  and  Leeman,  having 
retired  ostensibly  on  the  grounds  of  ill-health,  was  replaced  by  John  Hall  Gladstone.  The 
Gazette  chastised  the  Liberals  for  having  the  temerity  to  nominate  ‘Two  Lancashire  men’.7/ 
Lowther  was  indignant  that  a ‘slur  had  been  cast  upon  the  inhabitants  of  this  great  county, 
the  largest  in  the  kingdom,  as  a Yorkshireman  had  not  been  found  by  the  Liberal  party  to 
represent  the  capital  city  of  York’,78  and  he  ‘exhorted  the  electors  of  York  to  ‘vindicate  their 
freedom  and  independence’  and  ‘deliver  the  city  from  the  thraldom  in  which  it  was  now 
attempted  to  be  held’  [s7c].79  The  Yorkshire  Gazette  also  objected  to  Brown-Westhead  on 
the  grounds  that,  as  the  vice-chairman  of  the  London  and  North  Western  Railway,  ‘his  duty 
to  his  shareholders  require[d]  him  to  divert  the  through  passenger  traffic  between  London 
and  Edinburgh  from  the  York  route  for  the  benefit  of  his  own  railway’.80  As  for  John  Hall 
Gladstone,  the  Gazette  mused:  ‘Why  Yorkshire  should  be  the  refuge  of  the  Gladstones  we 
know  not’.  Objecting  once  again  to  outside  interference,  the  Gazette  found  it  objectionable 
that  the  only  recommendation  Gladstone  had  came  from  John  Bright,  whose  ‘interference 
with  the  representation  of  York  is  as  gratuitous  as  it  is  impudent’.81  In  summation,  the 
Gazette  warned  that  it  would  ‘be  a blotch  on  the  shield  of  York  should  its  interests  be 
confided  to  two  men,  who,  neither  by  residence  nor  by  identity  in  any  manner  with  our 
county,  are  concerned  or  acquainted  with  our  affairs’.82  Lowther’s  victory  at  the  head  of  the 
poll  was  the  occasion  for  the  remarks  with  which  this  article  opened.  As  Brown-Westhead 
had  previously  represented  the  city  it  is  not  surprising  that  he  took  the  second  seat,  defeating 
John  Hall  Gladstone. 

It  was  against  this  background  of  local  party  dictation  that  Lowther,  true  to  the  spirit  of 
the  country-party  ideology,  championed  the  virtues  of  independence.  Central  to  this  stance 
was  his  attempt  to  tap  into  popular,  and  especially  radical,  hostility  to  dictation  by  local 
elites  and  their  domination  of  local  political  structures.  Speaking  to  a group  of  electors  in  the 
New  Corn  Exchange  immediately  prior  to  the  1868  election,  Lowther  told  his  audience  that: 

He  was  not  a mere  organ  and  puppet  of  an  election  coterie  ...  he  had  never  allowed  himself 
to  be  drawn  by  a cart-taff  faction,  but  when  he  found  in  the  course  of  duty  that  he  differed  from 
the  leaders  of  the  great  Conservative  party  he  never  hesitated  to  say  so.  (Applause.) ...  He  would 
say  that  he  did  not  appear  before  them  as  a mere  nominee  of  any  person,  but  was  there  as  a free 
and  independent  candidate.8'1 

76  YG,  1 July  1865. 

77  YG,  12  Sept.  1868. 

78  YG,  7 Nov.  1868. 

79  YG,  14  Nov.  1868. 

80  YG,  8 Aug.  1868. 

81  YG,  26  Sept.  1868. 

82  YG,  8 Aug.  1868. 

83  YG,  14  Nov.  1868. 



This  would  have  had  a powerful  resonance  with  radicals  in  York  who  were  disaffected  by 
Leeman’s  domination  of  Liberal  politics.  The  country-party  ideology  also  manifested  itself 
in  Lowther’s  attempts  to  present  the  Conservatives  as  the  defenders  of  locality  in  the  face  of 

centralising  Whig-Liberalism.  Lowther  and  the  Tories  asserted  the  independence  of  the 
periphery  from  the  centre,  bemoaning  the  expensive,  meddling  and  destructive  actions  of 
Liberal  governments.  Lowther  assured  the  electors  in  1865  that  he  would  ‘devote  himself  to 
the  furtherance  of  your  local  interests,  which  I consider  have  been  trampled  on  by  the 
present  Government’.84  Mr  Husband  warned  the  electors  on  the  eve  of  the  1868  election  that 
it  had  been  a Liberal  government  which  had  taken  away  the  city’s  assizes  - more  evidence 
that  Liberals  threatened  the  autonomy  and  traditions  of  the  city.  Lowther  and  the  Tories 
were  strong  advocates  of  minimalist  government  - of  reduced  expenditure  and  taxation,  as 
well  as  being  opposed  to  ‘all  unnecessary  interference  in  the  affairs  of  other  countries’.85 
Lowther  held  to  the  tenet  that  ‘the  less  legislation  the  better’,86  although  there  were  occasional 
token  nods  towards  social  reform,  such  as  the  need  to  improve  working-class  dwellings.87 
This  hostility  to  outside  dictation  and  over-legislation  also  permeated  his  defence  of  popular 
pleasures,  most  notably  the  working-man’s  pint  of  beer,  in  the  face  of  moralising  Liberal 
Nonconformity.  Although  Lowther  was  ‘desirous  of  checking  drunkenness  on  the  Sabbath 
and  preventing  its  desecration,  he  would  not  be  one  to  deprive  the  poor  man  of  his  beer. 
(Loud  cheers.)’.88  He  reminded  the  working  men  at  the  1874  general  election  that  he  ‘had,  as 
they  well  knew,  always  objected  to  any  interference  with  the  people  as  to  their  eating  or 
drinking,  considering  that  it  was  the  inalienable  right  of  every  one  to  eat  and  drink  what  he 
liked’.89  Lowther  also  voiced  his  opposition  to  the  anti-Sabbatarian  movement  on  the  grounds 
that  Sunday  opening  would  deprive  the  working  man  of  his  day  of  rest.90 

As  this  rhetoric  suggests,  Lowther  was  deliberately  targeting  working-class  electors, 
believing  them  to  be  the  backbone  of  his  electoral  support.  Ingratiating  himself  to  this 
constituency  of  support  at  the  1868  election,  Lowther  stated  that: 

He  had  always  said,  and  he  said  it  again,  that  if  it  had  not  been  for  the  working  classes  he 
should  not  have  represented  this  city.  They  returned  him  to  parliament  at  the  last  election,  and 
they  would  again  return  him  this  time.  (Cheers.)  The  freemen,  who  were  half  the  constituency, 
returned  him  before  as  their  representative,  and  they  were  of  the  working  class,  and  if  he  was 
not  very  much  mistaken  they  would  send  him  again  to  parliament.  (Cheers.)  91 

Ward  committees  of  Working  Men’s  Conservative  Associations  were  already  in  existence 
by  1868. 92  By  1874  the  York  Working  Men’s  Conservative  Association  claimed  to  have 
1,400  members.93  Even  the  hostile  Liberal  York  Heraldw as  forced  to  concede  the  popularity 

84  YG,  8 Apr.  1865. 

85  YG,  1 July  1865. 

86  Doncaster  Gazette,  15  Sept.  1904. 

87  YG,  1 July  1865. 

88  YG,  14  Nov.  1868. 

89  YG,  31  Jan.  1874. 

90  YG,  8 Apr.  1865. 

91  YG,  14  Nov.  1868. 

92  YG,  14  Nov.  1868. 

93  YG,  31  Jan.  1874. 



of  Conservatism  with  the  working  class  in  the  aftermath  of  the  1868  general  election,  although 
it  naturally  alleged  that  Lowther  had  bought  this  support.94  Yet  there  was  substance,  as  well 
as  style,  to  this  Tory  populist  platform.  Also  reminiscent  of  the  country-party  ideology  and 
the  Tory-Radicalism  of  the  1830s,  was  their  ambivalent,  and  occasionally  hostile,  stance 
towards  industrialist  employers.  As  Mr  Husband  reminded  the  working  men  at  the  1865 
election:  ‘The  Conservative  party  were  the  true  friends  of  the  working  class,  as  they  had 
protected  their  children  against  the  millocrats  and  millowners  of  the  West  Riding’.95  Lowther 
was  of  the  view  that  only  the  Conservatives  could  be  trusted  to  mediate  between  capital  and 
labour  since  ‘a  considerable  number  of  them  were  landed  gentry  and  were  not  for  the  most 
part  great  employers  of  labour’.96  He  was  ‘in  favour  of  having  working  men  protected ...  from 
unjust  demands  upon  the  part  of  the  employer’.97  Again,  this  seemed  all  the  more  genuine 
when  spoken  by  Lowther  ‘the  country  gentleman’,  which  would  have  reinforced  his  populist 
credentials  in  the  eyes  of  the  working  class  who  traditionally  found  independent  gentlemen 
more  acceptable  than  middle-class  types  who  could  be  held  responsible  for  their  oppression.98 

As  Lowther’s  rhetoric  suggests,  it  was  the  freemen  who  were  being  specifically  targeted. 
This  was  undoubtedly  a constituency  of  support  which  had  a vested  interest  in  the 
preservation  of  the  social  and  political  status  quo.  In  his  1915  survey  of  the  development  of 
the  parliamentary  franchise  Charles  Seymour  noted  that  ‘when  the  term  freeman  was  used  in 
municipal  or  parliamentary  connection  it  borrowed  all  the  exclusiveness,  all  the  sense  of 
bourgeois  monopoly  which  hung  about  the  trade  guilds.’99  What  made  this  all  the  more 
salient  was  that  by  the  1860s  the  freemen  were  endangered  electors,  not  least  because  the 
Liberals,  and  Gladstone  in  particular,  had  become  preoccupied  with  finding  ways  to  end  the 
operation  of  this  ancient  franchise.  This  allowed  the  Conservative  party  to  present  itself  as 
the  defender  of  the  freeman  franchise,  much  as  they  had  done  in  1832  when  the  Whigs  had 
also  tried  to  terminate  these  ancient  voting  rights.100  At  the  1868  general  election  Lowther 
told  one  audience  that  Gladstone  ‘had  always  been  a steadfast  and  unflinching  opponent  to 
the  freemen  of  York  and  other  places.  ‘Mr  Gladstone’,  Lowther  went  on: 

Had  always  pretended  to  be  warm  and  interested  in  securing  an  extension  of  the  suffrage 
amongst  the  working  men  of  this  country,  but  he  had  always  been  opposed  to  the  freemen 
franchise.  (Loud  Applause.)  By  some  statistics  of  1867,  it  was  fully  proved  that  the  freemen  of 
England  were  not  the  most  corrupt  body  of  electors,  as  had  been  stated,  but  they  were  men  of 
fidelity,  and  fully  entitled  to  possess  the  franchise.  He ...  ventured  to  ask  the  constituency,  composed 
as  it  was  in  great  part  of  freemen,  whether  he  was  to  be  displaced  from  the  representation  of  this 
city  to  make  way  for  those  whose  recommendation  to  their  favours  was  that  they  were  prepared 
to  be  at  the  beck  and  call  of  one  who  ventured  so  to  malign  them.  (Applause  and  disapprobation.) 101 

94  YH,  21  Nov.  1868. 

95  YG,  7 July  1865. 

96  YG,  26  Sept.  1868. 

97  YG,  7 Nov.  1868. 

98John  Belchem  and  James  Epstein,  ‘The  nineteenth-century  gentleman  leader  revisited’,  Social 
History,  22  (1997),  173-92. 

99  Seymour,  Electoral  Reform,  p.  27. 

100  Seymour,  Electoral  Reform,  pp.  30  and  87. 

101  YG,  14  Nov.  1868. 



Here  we  see  Liberalism,  and  Gladstone  in  particular,  chastised  for  being  dishonest  and 
tyrannical.  By  posing  as  the  defenders  of  this  ancient  franchise,  and  securing  the  perpetuity 
of  that  franchise  in  1867,  the  Conservatives  positioned  themselves  as  the  protectors  of 
popular  privileges.  Defence  of  the  freeman  franchise  was  central  to  civic  ideology  as  this 
voting  right  issued  from  the  chartered  privileges  of  the  borough.  The  Tories’  defence  of  this 
ancient  right  prevented  the  York  Liberals  from  fully  capitalising  on  Lowther’s  initial 
opposition  to  a radical  extension  of  the  franchise  - it  will  be  recalled  that  he  had  initially 
opposed  his  own  government’s  reform  bill.  As  Lowther  stated  in  1865,  only  those  ‘persons  in 
lodgings,  clerks,  payers  of  income  tax  and  other  respectable  parties’  should  be  given  the 
vote.102  After  all,  as  far  as  Lowther  was  concerned,  most  working  men  who  deserved  the  vote 
already  qualified  as  freemen.  As  for  those  who  did  not  qualify,  only  lodgers  were  of  concern 
to  Lowther  as  many  of  these  were  ‘members  of  the  learned  professions,  intelligent  foremen 
over  workmen  and  labourers’  and  assorted  others  who  ‘contribute  largely  to  the  income  and 
assessed  taxes’.103  On  the  declaration  of  the  poll  in  1868  he  reminded  the  electors  that  the 
‘old  constitution  was  essentially  a popular  constitution  as  it  possessed  many  hundreds  of 
electors  who  were  freemen’.104  However,  one  should  not  necessarily  assume  that  freemen 
electors  were  automatically  predisposed  to  Conservatism.  For  example,  an  analysis  of  the 
1865  poll  book  based  on  a sample  of  every  tenth  freeman  elector  reveals  that  79  voted  for 
Lowther,  78  for  Leeman,  73  for  Westhead  and  63  were  undetermined.  Of  the  293  freeman 
electors  in  this  sample  only  six  split  their  votes  across  party  lines.105  Similarly,  the  compilers 
of  the  1865  Poll  Book  noticed  that  of  the  598  freemen  who  had  taken  up  their  freedom  since 
the  previous  election  in  1859,  309  voted  Liberal  and  287  Conservative.106  According  to 
contemporary  political  commentaiy  it  appears  that  political  belief  amongst  the  freemen  was 
transmitted  hereditarily.  Lowther  believed  that  ‘there  was  no  class  amongst  whom  party 
feeling  was  stronger,  or  amongst  whom  hereditary  political  views  descended  in  a straighter 
vein  than  amongst  the  working  classes.’10"  That  many  freemen  acquired  their  vote  through 
inheritance  may  well  account  for  this. 

Given  the  nature  of  Lowther’s  constituency  of  support  and  his  own  background,  it  is 
not  surprising  that  his  Conservatism  appeared  backward-looking,  defensive,  resistant  to 
change  and  vehemently  anti-democratic.  The  compilers  of  the  York  poll  book  for  1865 
remarked  of  Lowther  that:  ‘his  opinions  are  of  an  old-fashioned  pattern,  on  a deep  blue 
ground’,  but  since  he  had  ‘polled  a larger  number  of  undivided  votes  than  any  one  ever  did 
before  ...  the  fair  assumption  is  that  his  opinions  ...  are  in  harmony  with  those  of  a majority 
of  the  electoral  body’,  and  none  more  so  than  the  working  class.108 

102  YG,  8 July  1865. 

103  YG,  8 Apr.  1865. 

104  YG,  21  Nov.  1868. 

105  These  figures  have  been  calculated  from  a database  constructed  from  a sample  of  every  tenth 
freeman  elector  from  the  1865  York  poll  book,  cross  referenced  with  the  1865  electoral  register 
held  at  York  City  Library. 

106  York  Poll  Book,  1865,  p.  5. 

107  YG,  14  Nov.  1868. 

11)8  York  Poll  Book  1865,  p.  5. 



This  helps  to  explain  why  the  constitutional  idiom  featured  so  prominently  in  York 
Conservatism.  The  committee  of  the  York  Working  Men’s  Conservative  Association  ‘were 
of  the  opinion  that  the  working  class  as  a body  are  proud  of  the  English  constitution,  and  are 
anxious  to  uphold  and  preserve  intact  those  noble  institutions  which  had  tended  to  make 
their  country  great  and  illustrious’  - a constitution  that  the  freemen  had  profited  from.109 
Just  as  the  freemen  franchise  was  a hereditary  privilege,  so  too  had  the  constitution,  in  the 
words  of  Lowther,  been  ‘inherited  from  a wise  and  provident  ancestry’  and  it  was  the  duty  of 
working  men  to  hand  it  ‘down  uninjured  and  unimpaired  to  a grateful  posterity’.110  There 
was  little  place  for  democracy  in  this  vision. 

Notions  of  manly  independence  and  honesty  were  deployed  in  a distinctly  English  and 
Yorkshire  frame  of  reference  against  various  democratic  measures.  This  manifested  itself 
most  notably  in  Lowther’s  hostility  to  the  introduction  of  the  secret  ballot.  The  advocates  of 
the  ballot  were  attempting  to  thrust  on  the  electors  ‘the  sneaking,  cowardly,  un-English, 
American  system  of  voting’.111  This  was  interpreted  as  an  attempt  to  subvert  the  ‘manly  and 
open  character  of  English  institutions.’112  Lowther  gave  his  opposition  a distinctly  Yorkshire 

We  must  imagine  the  voters  walking  up  carefully  and  sneakingly  to  the  polling-places,  and 
there  thrusting  in  their  votes  upon  the  sly,  in  a manner  that  any  honest  man  would  be  heartily 
ashamed  of.  Just  conceive  any  inhabitant  of  this  city  or  any  real  bred  Yorkshireman  doing  such 
a thing.113 

No  doubt  radicals  and  a fair  few  Liberals  of  John  Stuart  Mill’s  kidney  would  have  agreed. 
Thus,  the  Conservatives  voiced  their  opposition  to  the  ballot  in  a language  that  fused  together 
popular  conceptions  of  locality,  gender  and  nation:  Lowther’s  association  of  Conservatism 
with  a militant  Englishness  was  refracted  through  a masculine  Yorkshire  lens.  He  believed 
that  the  franchise  was  a trust  ‘for  which  its  possessors  are  responsible  to  the  whole 
community’.114  As  such,  he  could  ‘never  sanction  a measure  which  must  tend  to  lower  the 
independent  character  of  my  countrymen’.  For  ‘the  examples  of  France  and  America  clearly 
show  that  the  Ballot  and  universal  suffrage  are  no  obstacles  to  tyranny  and  oppression.’115 
Lowther  and  the  York  Conservative  party’s  conception  of  Englishness  was  defined  in 
opposition  to  this  American  and  French  democratic  ‘Other’.  In  his  first  ever  election  address 
to  the  city  Lowther  declared  that  he  was: 

Opposed  to  the  wild  democrat,  who  would  reduce  our  glorious  constitution  to  the  level  of 
American  institutions,  so  productive  not  only  of  bloodshed  and  rapine,  but  also  of  a tyranny 
more  intolerant  than  that  of  the  worst  despotic  Government.116 

109  YG,  4 July  1868. 

110  YG,  26  Sept.  1868 

111  YG,  1 July  1865. 

112  YG,  1 July  1865. 

113  YG,  8 July  1865. 

114  YG,  1 July  1865. 

115  YG,  1 July  1865. 

116  YG,  1 July  1865. 



As  the  example  of  the  ballot  demonstrates,  even  discussions  of  specific  policies  and 
legislative  programmes  could  be  articulated  in  the  language  of  locality,  thus  illustrating  the 
interdependency  of  local  and  national  identities  and  idioms.  That  Lowther  and  the  York 
Conservatives  chose  to  couch  their  political  appeal  in  these  idioms  confirms  that  they  believed 
in  the  mobilising  capacities  of  identities  based  on  place,  an  identity  which  transcended  class 
and  religious  divisions,  and  their  electoral  success  suggests  that  such  an  appeal  resonated 
with  a significant  proportion  of  the  electorate. 


Lowther’s  electioneering  extravaganzas  at  York  demonstrate  that  even  ‘dinosaur’  figures 
could  fashion  a viable  popular  politics,  and  one  that  mounted  a successful  challenge  to  the 
Liberal  political  hegemony  in  its  mid-Victorian  heyday.  The  portrait  from  York  thus  lends 
further  weight  to  the  emerging  critique  of  the  ‘currents  of  radicalism’  school,  which  has 
exaggerated  the  successes  of  popular  Liberalism  during  the  1860s  and  1870s  and  diminished 
the  points  of  tension  within  the  Liberal  coalition.11'  The  electoral  performance  of  the 
Conservative  party  during  this  period  also  serves,  to  some  extent,  as  a barometer  for  the 
level  of  tension  within  the  Liberal  party,  although  one  would  not  wish  to  reduce  the  fortunes 
of  Conservatism  to  a reflection  of  the  periodic  divisions  within  the  Liberal  alliance. 
Nevertheless,  as  seen  with  Lowther,  he  was  able  to  make  political  capital  out  of  radical 
hostility  towards  dictatorial  Liberal  elites.  Notwithstanding  the  backward-looking  and 
resistant  nature  of  Lowther’s  platform  it  clearly  resonated  with  some  radicals.  These  tensions 
within  the  Liberal  party  had  been  a factor  in  York  politics  since  the  1830s,  and  up  until  the 
1850s  this  pressure  was  usually  released  through  the  nomination  of  a more  advanced 
candidate  at  parliamentary  elections  to  accompany  the  candidate  chosen  by  Leeman  and  his 
clique.  But  as  Leeman’s  grip  tightened  from  the  late  1850s  the  radical  agenda  was  increasingly 
thwarted,  and  this  led  some  to  look  elsewhere.  If  Leeman’s  Liberalism  had  been  more 
advanced  this  might  have  mattered  less,  but  as  matters  stood  he  seemed  ever  more  cautious 
- except  when  it  came  to  moralising  about  popular  pleasures.  Leeman’s  radicalism  had 
always  been  rather  weak:  he  had  remained  aloof  from  the  Chartists,  the  Anti-Corn  Law 
League  and  he  was  opposed  to  manhood  suffrage.118  Thus,  for  all  Lowther’s  opposition  to 
the  extension  of  the  franchise  and  the  ballot  there  were  other  aspects  of  his  platform  that 
radicals  could  closely  identify  with:  as  mentioned  that  was  the  virtue  of  the  ‘country-party’ 
ideology  and  the  rhetoric  of  electoral  independence. 

However,  Lowther’s  electoral  successes  were  the  product  of  a specific  historical 
conjuncture  in  the  late  1860s,  the  basis  of  which  was  undermined  thereafter.  At  the  1874 
general  election  Lowther  and  the  Tories  were  unable  to  voice  their  political  appeal  in  the 
language  of  locality  since  the  Liberals  selected  only  one  candidate  in  the  person  of  ‘Citizen 

117  On  these  tensions  see:  A.  Taylor,  ‘“The  best  way  to  get  what  he  wanted”:  Ernest  Jones  and 
the  boundaries  of  Liberalism  in  the  Manchester  election  of  1868’,  Parliamentary  History , 16 
(1997),  185-204;  N.  Kirk,  Change,  Continuity  and  Class:  labour  in  British  society,  1850-1920 
(Manchester,  1998),  pp.  94-5;  Lawrence,  Speaking  for  the  People , p.  46. 

118  Peacock,  ‘George  Leeman’,  pp.  236  and  249. 



Leeman’.  It  was  difficult  for  Lowther  to  attack  Leeman  either  as  an  outsider,  or  as  a jumped- 
up  city  politician,  since  in  1871  he  had  replaced  Brown-Westhead  unopposed  and  so  was  a 
sitting  MP  at  the  dissolution  in  1874.  In  addition,  in  consequence  of  their  over-confidence, 
the  Conservatives  left  themselves  open  to  the  charge  of  hypocrisy  when,  in  addition  to 
Lowther,  they  nominated  Lewis  Payan  Dawnay  as  a second  candidate.  It  was  not  that  Dawnay 
was  a carpet-bagger.  As  a younger  son  of  a Yorkshire  aristocrat  with  extensive  property  in 
the  county  and  a staunch  patron  of  the  Church,  he  had  good  ‘county’  credentials,  although 
the  Gazette  was  forced  to  concede  that  ‘Mr  Dawnay  was  comparatively  unknown  to  the 
electors  prior  to  the  election’,  which  is  undeniably  true  given  the  last  minute  decision  to 
nominate  a second  candidate,  to  say  nothing  of  Gladstone’s  flash  decision  to  hold  an 
election.119  The  hypocrisy  stemmed  from  the  hitherto  insistence  by  the  Tories  that  each 
party  was  entitled  to  one  of  the  York  seats,  and  so  long  as  they  nominated  only  one  candidate 
this  insistence  held  good  - however  much  it  was  based  on  tactical  calculation.  In  nominating 
a second  candidate  the  Tories  no  longer  appeared  to  be  paragons  of ‘fair  play’.  Leaving  aside 
the  flash  decision  to  hold  an  election,  and  notwithstanding  Dawnay’s  county  credentials,  it 
was  unlikely  that  a relatively  unknown  candidate  was  going  to  dislodge  either  Leeman  or 
Lowther,  both  of  whom  were  already  sitting  MPs.  On  this  occasion  Leeman  topped  the  polls. 
Unaccompanied  by  a carpet-bagger,  and  preserving  harmony  within  the  York  Liberal  party,120 
Leeman  deployed  his  local  credentials  to  maximum  effect.121 

In  the  York  Tory  camp,  the  1874  general  election  was  couched  in  a more  national  idiom. 
Reversing  their  stance  from  the  two  previous  elections,  the  Tories  were  at  pains  to  emphasise 
that  ‘local  ties  should  not  be  considered’  and  informed  the  electors  that  they  should  vote 
according  to  measures  and  not  men.122  Husband  told  the  electors  in  no  uncertain  terms  that 
‘the  question  was  one  of  principle  alone,  whether  the  people  shall  be  religiously  educated  or 
not,  and  whether  the  English  Church  should  be  disestablished  like  the  Irish  Church.’123  This 
was  even  more  evident  at  the  1880  general  election,  when  Lowther  actually  lost  his  seat.  It 
was  more  than  ironic  that  the  electors  of  York  preferred  an  untried  candidate  to  Lowther,  on 
this  occasion  in  the  person  of  Ralph  Creyke,  a Liberal  who  topped  the  polls.  Like  Lowther 
before  him,  Creyke  was  a Yorkshire  gentleman  with  local  connections.  Having  retired  for 
the  second  time  due  to  failing  health,  George  Leeman  was  replaced  by  his  youngest  son, 
JosephJoshua  Leeman,  although  interestingly  his  local  and  familial  connections  could  not 
rival  Creyke’s  position  as  a Yorkshire  country  gentleman.  In  a sentence  that  Lowther  himself 
could  have  uttered,  Creyke  at  his  nomination  meeting  ‘hoped  they  would  allow  him  to  call 
them  brother  Yorkshiremen.  (Cheers.)’.124  Arguably,  Creyke’s  victory  over  Leeman  junior 

119  YG,  7 Feb.  1874. 

120  Leeman’s  neutral  stance  over  the  contentious  Permissive  Bill  secured  him  the  grudging 
support  of  radical  nonconformity,  which  elsewhere  revolted  against  mainstream  Liberalism, 
producing  some  instances  of  rival  candidatures.  Neutrality  became  the  acceptable  minimum 
that  qualified  candidates  for  temperance  votes.  See  D.  A.  Hamer,  The  Politics  of  Electoral 
Pressure:  a study  in  the  history  of  Victorian  reform  agitations  (Sussex,  1977),  p.  192. 

121  YG , 7 Feb.  1874.  The  voting  was  as  follows  (figures  taken  from  the  YG,  7 Feb.  1874):  Leeman: 
3,880;  Lowther:  3,371;  Dawnay:  2,830. 

122  YG,  31  Jan.  1874. 

123  YG,  29  Jan.  1874. 

124  YH,  17  March  1880. 



provides  further  evidence  that  the  city  normally  had  a preference  for  a country  gentleman.  In 
this  respect,  Leeman  senior  had  been  an  exception,  and  it  is  worth  noting  that  he  had  been 
the  first  York  resident  to  represent  York  since  the  1820s.  In  addition,  the  Conservative  party 
had  been  in  government  for  the  past  six  years  and  Lowther  found  that  he  was  saddled  with 
defending  his  government’s  record,  of  which  he  had  played  his  part,  first  as  Under-Secretary 
for  the  Colonies  from  1874  to  1878,  and  then  as  Irish  Chief  Secretary  - all  of  which  served  to 
reinforce  the  national  focus  of  the  1880  election.  Lowther’s  political  style  was  always  more 
suited  to  the  opposition  benches.  After  all,  the  ‘country-party’  platform  was  an  ideology  of 
political  exclusion. 

The  national  dimensions  of  the  campaign  were  underlined  when  Gladstone’s  train,  on  its 
way  from  London  to  Edinburgh,  arrived  into  York  whereupon  he  alighted  and  gave  a rousing 
speech  attacking  ‘Beaconsfieldism’:  a pejorative  term  coined  by  Gladstone  to  denote 
Disraeli’s,  by  then  Earl  of  Beaconsfield,  and  the  Conservatives’  reckless,  inefficient,  expensive, 
and  above  all,  iniquitous  conduct  of  foreign  and  imperial  affairs.  Gladstone  charged  the 
government  with  being  indifferent  to  freedom  abroad,  of  weakening  the  empire  through 
needless  and  costly  foreign  entanglements,  and  of  contravening  the  principles  of  international 
law.125  The  Liberals  presented  the  1880  election  as  a great  state  trial  in  which  the  government 
was  prosecuted  for  its  past  actions,  especially  its  foreign  policy.126  Despite  the  early  attempts 
of  the  York  Conservatives  to  brand  Creyke  as  a carpet-bagger,  they  too  emphasised  the 
national,  even  international,  dimensions  of  the  election.  The  Yorkshire  Gazette  bluntly  told 
its  readers  that: 

The  two  or  three  test  questions  at  this  election  will  be:  shall  we  sanction  Home  Rule?  Shall 
Ireland  have  a parliament  of  her  own,  and  the  Empire  be  dismembered?  Or  shall  we  insist  upon 
that  the  Parliament  of  England  still  govern  Ireland?  Also  that  the  foreign  policy  of  the 
government,  taken  in  its  entirety  has  been  such  as  commends  itself  to  the  common  sense  and  the 
imperial  instincts  of  Englishmen?127 

Consequently,  Lowther  was  defeated  in  1880  not  because  of  who  he  was,  but  what  he 
represented.  On  the  platform  he  was  subjected  to  an  unprecedented  barrage  of  heckling, 
with  cries  of:  ‘You’re  on  your  last  legs’  and  repeated  ‘groans’,  ‘hooting’  and  ‘derisive  laughter’.128 
In  addition,  as  the  Liberal  York  Herald  pointed  out,  the  Liberals  approached  the  election 
with  unparalleled  unity  and  sense  of  direction.  With  a healthy  dose  of  malice,  the  Yorkshire 
Gazette , choking  on  sour  grapes,  commented  that: 

The  Liberals  of  York  have,  by  dint  of  wooing  the  local  Home  Rulers  and  pandering  to  the 
crazes  of  the  Teetotallers,  have  succeeded  in  ousting  from  the  representation  a gentleman  who, 
by  dint  of  reason  of  his  political  honesty  and  consistent  refusal  to  truckle  to  their  wishes,  had 
made  himself  especially  obnoxious  to  those  parties.129 

Interestingly  though,  Lowther’s  electoral  support  was  relatively  stable  across  the  period  - 
2,079  in  1865  rising  to  3,735  in  1868  after  the  Second  Reform  Act,  falling  slightly  to  3,371 

125  YG ; 31  Jan.  1874. 

126  Leeds  Mercury, ; 9 March  1880. 

127  YG,  1 Apr.  1880. 

128  YG,  17  March  1880. 

129  YG,  10  Apr.  1880. 



in  1874  and  rising,  ironically,  to  an  all-time  high  of  3,959  in  1880.  Given  the  growth  of  the 
Liberal  vote  in  1880,  from  3,880  in  1874  to  4,505  (the  leading  Liberal)  in  1880  one  can 
postulate  that  the  Liberals  benefited  from  an  expanding  electorate  - the  constituency  had 
grown  by  1,227  votes  between  1874  and  1880  - and  perhaps  also  from  an  increased  voter 

What  is  to  be  made  of  the  role  played  by  civic  ideologies  of  independence  in  Lowther’s 
electoral  successes  in  the  1860s,  the  setback  in  1874  and  his  eventual  defeat  in  1880?  On  one 
level  it  could  be  argued  that  election  rhetoric  was  purely  expedient,  and  that  focusing  on 
local  and  regional  issues  is  to  mistake  style  for  substance,  arguably  the  real  intention  of 
Lowther  and  the  Tories.  Based  on  this  reading,  all  that  happened  in  1880,  and  to  a lesser 
extent  in  1874,  was  the  denuding  of  an  impoverished  Tory  platform.  Yet  such  an  interpretation 
is  reductionist  and  fails  to  take  seriously  the  language  which  was  being  used.  The  fact  that 
issues  like  electoral  independence,  and  local  and  regional  identity  continued  to  be  invoked 
suggests  that  they  continued  to  be  relevant  and  were  deemed  to  be  important  by  a significant 
portion  of  the  electorate.  After  all,  Lowther  was  elected  when  he  used  such  rhetoric  and 
ousted  when  he  did  not.  More  importantly,  it  was  not  just  Lowther  and  the  Tories  who 
invoked  local  issues  and  deployed  localist  idioms,  as  evidenced  by  Leeman  in  1874  and 
Creyke  in  1880.  This  suggests  that  local  appeals  were  powerful,  irrespective  of  party, 
especially  if  there  were  synergies  with  other  supra-local  issues:  the  abolition  of  Church  rates 
and  parliamentary  reform  in  1865;  the  disestablishment  of  the  Irish  Church  and  the  freeman 
franchise  in  1868;  the  question  of  religious  education  and  the  position  of  the  ‘National 
Church’  in  1874;  and  the  iniquities  of  Beaconsfield’s  foreign  policy  in  1880.  The  portrait 
that  emerges  from  York  suggests  that  there  was  no  linear  and  immutable  movement  away 
from  a politics  couched  in  a distinctly  local  idiom  to  one  more  explicitly  national  and 
international  in  focus  under  the  inexorable  ‘rise  of  party’,  complete  with  its  integrating, 
disciplining  and  homogenising  functions.  In  a telling  and  passing  phrase,  the  Yorkshire 
Gazette  noted  of  the  1874  election  that  one  notable  feature  had  been  the  revival  of  national 
party  colours  of  blue  and  orange,  not  the  arrival  of  them.131  What  stands  out  is  the  continual 
interplay  of  local,  regional  and  national  identities  throughout  the  late-Victorian  and 
Edwardian  periods.132  After  all,  Lowther  and  the  Tories  had  not  been  the  victims  of  the 
nationalisation  of  politics  per  se  in  1880;  rather  they  had  lost  the  local  card  to  the  Liberals, 
albeit  at  a time  when  the  latter  were  benefiting  from  national  political  developments. 

All  this  begs  the  question  of  just  how  typical  York  was  in  the  context  of  mid-Victorian 
popular  politics.  For  all  that  York  was  an  old  freeman  borough,  awkwardly  positioned  between 
the  smaller  market  towns  and  the  burgeoning  industrial  boroughs,  it  is  worth  remembering 
that  Victorian  ‘urban  politics  cannot  be  reduced  to  the  politics  of ...  great  cities,  not  least 

130  The  voting  was  as  follows  (figures  from  YG,  10  Apr.  1880): 

Lowther  plumpers:  3,578; 
splits  with  Creyke:  233; 
splits  with  Leeman:  148 


Creyke  plumpers:  32; 

splits  with  Lowther:  233; 
splits  with  Leeman:  4,240 


131  YG,  7 Feb.  1874. 

132  See  Lawrence,  Speaking  for  the  People,  passim,  esp.  ch.  6. 

Leeman  plumpers:  25 
splits  with  Creyke:  4,240 
splits  with  Lowther:  148 




because  ...  the  typical  “urbanite”  continued  to  reside  in  the  medium-sized  town,  with  50,000 
to  100,000  inhabitants,  rather  than  in  the  large  city’,  which  makes  York  more  representative 
of  urban  politics  generally  than  initially  appears  to  be  the  case.133  Nevertheless,  situating 
York  within  the  wider  context  of  mid-Victorian  popular  politics  does  suggest  that  the  city’s 
electoral  culture  was  fairly  typical.  In  this  respect,  three  main  interlinked  points  emerge. 
Firstly,  the  powerful  anti-party  spirit  that  pervaded  Victorian  popular  politics  represented  a 
re-working  and  updating  of  the  eighteenth-centuiy  ‘country-party’  ideology  and  associated 
culture  of  electoral  independence.  Various  attempts  were  made  by  disaffected  political 
groupings  to  use  civic  loyalties  as  a stick  to  beat  political  opponents,  usually  Liberals.  Many 
places  had  their  own  localised  incarnation  of  ‘Old  Corruption’,  and  the  way  in  which 
opposition  to  it  manifested  itself  was  temporally  and  spatially  specific,  contingent  upon  the 
political  dynamics  of  the  locality  in  question.  In  parts  of  the  Black  Countiy  and  Lancashire 
the  power  of  the  local  Liberal  elite  was  so  entrenched  that  popular  hostility  towards  them 
fuelled  the  rise  of  popular  Conservatism,  as  was  also  the  case  in  York.134  By  contrast,  in 
places  where  either  the  Tory  party  was  weaker  or  the  position  of  the  Liberal  elite  less  secure, 
this  discontent  could  take  the  form  of  independent  radical  politics,  as  was  the  case  in 
London  and  Nottingham.135  Far  from  being  able  to  reduce  election  behaviour  to  underlying 
social  cleavages,  the  article  provides  further  evidence  of  the  diverse,  fluid  and  unstable 
nature  of  Victorian  popular  politics.  Secondly,  in  tracing  the  evolution  of  popular 
Conservatism  across  the  nineteenth  century  it  is  evident  that  the  late-Victorian  incarnation 
owed  a great  deal  to  the  ‘country-party’  ideology,  what  with  the  Conservative  party’s  emphasis 
on  local  and  national  patriotism  and  by  presenting  itself  as  the  custodian  of  national  as 
opposed  to  party  interests  along  with  its  defence  of  traditional  ways  of  life.  Historians  need 
to  pay  more  critical  attention  to  localism  and  regionalism  as  a facet  of  popular  political 
identity.  Thirdly,  this  article  has  also  argued  that  electoral  politics  in  York  conform  more  to 
the  political  culture  of  the  pre-1832  ‘unreformed  system’  rather  than  any  so-called  ‘modern’ 
system  of  party  politics.  The  purpose  of  doing  so  is  not  to  paint  York  politics  in  a negative 
and  reactionary  light,  although  the  city’s  politics  could  be  both  these  things;  rather,  that  the 
persistence  of  local  issues  and  civic  notions  of  independence,  the  reactionary  nature  of 
Lowther’s  politics,  and  the  pre-industrial  composition  of  the  York  electorate  provide  further 
evidence  that  the  vibrant  and  participatory  electoral  culture  associated  with  later  Hanoverian 
and  early  Victorian  England  survived  into  the  1870s.  Indeed,  there  is  little  evidence  to 
suggest  that  popular  politics  had  been  ‘disciplined,  regulated  and  disabled’  by  the  1870s  as 

133  Lawrence,  ‘The  dynamics  of  urban  politics,  1867-1914’,  in  Lawrence  and  Taylor  (eds.),  Party, 
State  and  Society , pp.  79-105,  at  p.  79. 

134  For  the  Black  Country  see  Lawrence,  ‘Popular  politics  and  the  limitations  of  party’  in  Biagini 
and  Reid  (eds.),  Currents  of  Radicalism.  For  Lancashire  see  Joyce,  Work,  Society  and  Politics', 
Kirk,  Labour  and  Society  in  Britain  and  the  USA,  vol.  2. 

135  On  London  see  A.  Taylor,  ‘After  Chartism:  metropolitan  perspectives  on  the  Chartist 
movement  in  decline,  1848-60’  in  M.  J.  Turner  (ed.)  Reform  and  Reformers  in  nineteenth 
century  Britain  ( Sunderland,  2004),  pp.  117-35;  A.  Taylor,  ‘A  melancholy  odyssey  among  London 
public  houses’:  radical  club  life  and  the  unrespectable  in  mid-nineteenth-century  London’, 
Historical  Research,  78  (2005),  pp.  74-95.  For  Nottingham  see  A.  C.  Wood,  ‘Sir  Robert  Clifton, 
1826-69’,  Transactions  of  the  Thornton  Society,  57  (1953),  48-65. 



argued  by  James  Vernon.136  Lowther’s  election  victories  were  not  the  product  of  a rigidly 
controlled  party  bureaucracy,  indoor  ‘ticketed’  public  meetings,  or  of  a more  general  insidious 
attempt  to  undermine  the  open,  boisterous  and  libertarian  politics  of  the  street  - innovations 
that  Lowther  would  have  undoubtedly  dismissed  as  ‘unmanly’.  Indeed,  it  was  Lowther’s 
acceptance  of  this  open  political  culture  that  legitimised  his  claims  to  represent  the  people. 
Beyond  York,  forthcoming  work  byjon  Lawrence  and  Kit  Good  will  suggest  that  this  robust, 
masculine  and  participatory  electoral  culture  even  survived  into  the  early  twentieth  century.13' 

Yet  for  all  that  York’s  electoral  culture  was  typical  of  mid-Victorian  popular  politics  the 
pattern  of  electoral  success  was  less  typical.  There  can  be  little  doubt  that  in  York  this 
pattern  deviated  from  the  national  trend,  with  the  Liberals  performing  badly  during  the  late 
1860s  when  they  were  doing  well  elsewhere,  and  improving  at  the  1874  and  1880  general 
elections  when  Liberalism  was  beginning  to  decline  in  other  large  urban  centres.  Nevertheless, 
that  Lowther  was  able  to  top  the  poll  at  the  1865  and  1868  general  elections  hardly  made 
York  exceptional:  in  1865  Conservative  candidates  topped  the  poll  in  fifty-two  of  the  sixty- 
three  English  boroughs  in  which  the  party  won  seats.  At  the  1868  election  Conservatives 
headed  the  poll  in  fifty-eight  of  the  seventy  English  boroughs  in  which  they  were  victorious. 
What  does  appear  to  be  more  exceptional,  however,  is  the  declining  performance  of  Lowther 
and  the  York  Tories  in  the  1870s  - a time  when  the  Conservative  party  was  beginning  to  win 
in  other  large  urban  centres,  particularly  evident  at  the  1874  and  1880  general  elections.  But 
even  in  this  respect  the  extent  of  York’s  exceptionalism  needs  to  be  qualified.  Arguably,  the 
electoral  performance  of  the  Conservative  party  in  York  during  the  1870s  seems  less 
impressive  vis-a-vis  its  transformation  in  other  large  urban  centres  precisely  because  the 
party  had  always  been  a force  to  be  reckoned  with  in  York.  This  was  not  the  case  in  places 
like  Birmingham,  Sheffield  and  London  where  the  Tories  had  been  confined  to  the  electoral 
doldrums  during  the  mid-Victorian  period.  Thus,  when  compared  with  other  established 
towns  and  cities  - such  as  Bristol,  Coventry,  Grantham,  Leeds,  Norwich  and  Southampton, 
i.e.,  those  places  with  a long  established  powerful  Conservative  interest  - York  appears  less 
idiosyncratic.  There  would  be  no  dramatic  ‘transformation  of  Conservatism’  in  these  places 
during  the  last  decades  of  the  nineteenth  century  as  there  would  be  in  Birmingham,  Sheffield 

136  It  is  Vernon’s  wider  contention  that  ‘despite  laying  the  legislative  foundations  of  liberal 
democracy  in  1832  and  1867,  English  politics  became  progressively  less  democratic  during  this 
period’.  Vernon,  Politics  and  the  People , pp.  8-9.  Whilst  the  present  article  shares  the  argument 
of  Vernon  and  others  that  there  existed  an  inclusive  popular  politics  before  1832,  it  rejects  his 
argument  that  this  politics  was  eroded  between  1832  and  1872,  which,  in  any  case,  is  difficult  to 
reconcile  with  Vernon’s  own  argument  that  political  parties  in  Westminster  after  1832  were 
widely  rejected  in  the  nation  in  favour  of  local,  idiosyncratic  leaders,  symbols  and  loyalties.  For 
a critique  of  Vernon’s  argument  concerning  the  disciplining  of  popular  politics  see:  J.  Lawrence, 
‘The  decline  of  English  popular  politics?’,  Parliamentary  History,  13  (1994),  333-7. 

137Jon  Lawrence,  ‘The  transformation  of  British  public  politics  after  the  First  World  War’,  Past 
and  Present , 190  (forthcoming  2006);  Kit  Good,  ‘Platform  manliness  and  the  physical  ordeal  of 
campaigning’,  in  Matthew  McCormack  (ed.),  Public  Men:  political  masculinities  in  modern 
Britain  (Palgrave,  forthcoming  2006). 



and  London.138  In  some  of  these  older  urban  centres  the  electoral  apogee  of  popular 
Conservatism  was  reached  in  the  mid-Victorian  years,  the  existence  of  which  suggests  that 
historians  need  to  rethink  the  notion  of  an  immutable  and  linear  transformation  of  Conservatism 
in  the  late  nineteenth  century. 

138  For  the  classic  statement  of  the  ‘transformation’  narrative  seej.  P.  Cornford,  ‘The  transformation 
of  Conservatism  in  the  late  nineteenth  century’,  Victorian  Studies , 7 (1963),  35-77. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 




Lawrence  Butler 

In  the  previous  Journal  (77  (2005),  268)  there  was  published  a family  photograph  of  Miss 
Maiy  Kitson  Clark  and  her  cousin  Miss  Christine  Kitson  seated  in  “St.  Chad’s  Cell”,  described 
as  an  arbour  or  folly  outside  the  Kitson  house  at  Meanwoodside.  In  his  article  Stephen 
Briggs  suggests  (p.  269)  that  this  folly  was  built  of  materials  from  a demolished  chapel  or 
church.  The  name,  the  architectural  form  and  the  sculptural  detail  all  supports  the  view  that 
this  was  part  of  the  inner  sanctuary  wall  from  the  demolished  apse  of  St.  Chad’s  church,  Far 
Headingley,  3A  mile  (1  km.)  south-west  across  the  Meanwood  Beck. 

The  church  of  St.  Chad,  Far  Headingley  was  consecrated  in  January  1868,  having  been 
built  by  the  Leeds  architect  W.  H.  Crosland  (1834-1909)  to  designs  suggested  by  the  land- 
owner  and  patron  Edmund  Beckett  Denison,  later  the  first  Lord  Grimthorpe.  The  design 
was  a fourteenth-century  Gothic  with  an  aisled  nave  of  six  bays,  a pentagonal  apse,  modelled 
upon  Lichfield  cathedral,  and  a west  tower  with  a spire  rising  to  186  feet  (57.23  m.).  The 
outer  aisle  of  the  apse  was  divided  by  timber  partitions  into  two  vestries  and  an  organ 
chamber.  Raised  on  two  steps  was  the  sanctuary  with  a stone  screen  of  five  segments  dividing 
the  elevated  area  from  the  surrounding  aisle.  The  choir  stalls  were  in  the  easternmost  bay  of 
the  nave.  The  window  design  of  the  apse  at  ground  level  and  at  clerestory  level  exactly 
matched  that  of  the  still  surviving  nave  with  two  light  Gothic  windows  lighting  the  aisles  and 
single  lancets  lighting  the  clerestory.  In  1909  a Faculty  was  granted  to  demolish  the  eastern 
apse  and  replace  it  with  a much  larger  square-ended  and  aisled  chancel.  This  was  built  by 
John  Gibbons  (1850-1935)  of  Manchester  and  his  son  John  Harold  Gibbons  (1878-1958), 
and  the  enlarged  church  was  opened  in  1911. 

As  a result  of  the  decision  to  demolish  the  apse  at  St.  Chad’s,  the  materials  from  that 
church  would  be  available  from  1909  onwards.  What  appears  to  be  shown  on  the  Kitson 
Clark  photograph  are  three  sections  out  of  five  from  the  inner  sanctuary  wall;  there  is  the 
same  blank  arcading  with  Gothic  cusping  that  is  shown  on  the  architect’s  plans.  The  floral 
capitals  are  small  scale  versions  of  the  surviving  nave  capitals  (by  Mr.  Ruddock  of  London) 
and  the  circular  floral  paterae  can  be  matched  in  St.  Chad’s  and  at  Lichfield.  The  newness 
of  the  stonework  forming  the  back  wall  of  the  garden  ‘Cell’  is  to  be  explained  by  the  fact  that 
the  original  wall  carried  mosaics,  some  of  which  were  relaid  in  the  north  aisle  floor  of  the 
enlarged  chancel.  The  benches  on  which  the  two  children  and  their  dolls  sit  are  also  new 
features.  When  the  photograph  was  taken,  c.  1915,  the  folly  would  be  about  5 years  old. 

Reference:  J.  Sprittles,  St.  Chad’s  Parish  Church , Far  Headingley,  Leeds,  Centenary  Year 
1968:  The  First  Hundred  Years.  20  pp.  (no  publisher  or  date) 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 




M.A.,  D.LITT.  (HON.),  F.B.A.  (1920-2005) 

Our  Society  has  been  fortunate  that  one  of  this  country’s  leading  economic  historians 
chose  to  devote  so  much  of  his  time  and  good-will  to  the  interests  of  Claremont  and  its 
members.  Although  Professor  Beresford  was  a scholar  of  national  importance,  associated 
especially  with  medieval  village  desertion  and  with  new  town  plantations,  this  appreciation 
will  emphasise  his  local  contributions. 

Maurice  was  a big  man,  in  physical  bulk,  in  booming  voice  and  infectious  humour,  in  the 
magnitude  of  his  projects  and  in  the  generosity  of  his  spirit.  Born  an  only  child,  he  was 
educated  at  Sutton  Coldfield  before  reading  history  at  Jesus  College,  Cambridge.  He  was 
employed  first  in  London  and  then  in  Birmingham  on  social  work  schemes,  prompted  by  his 
socialist  conscience  and  concern  for  the  deprived  in  wartime  society.  He  soon  moved  to  an 
adult  education  centre  in  Rugby  where  his  latent  interest  in  medieval  landscapes  and  village 
desertion  could  develop  through  local  fieldwork  in  Warwickshire.  His  appointment  as  a 
lecturer  in  economic  history  in  the  School  of  Economics  at  Leeds  University  in  1948  enabled 
him  to  research  further  into  landscapes  and  villages,  both  through  fieldwork  across  Yorkshire 
and  also  by  excavation  at  Wharram  Percy.  His  survey  of  deserted  medieval  villages  in  Yorkshire 
was  published  in  this  journal  in  four  instalments  (1951-4)  and  was  his  only  contribution  to 
the  journal  apart  from  a paper  on  glebe  terriers  and  open  fields  (1950)  and  a few  reviews. 

The  Warwickshire  and  Yorkshire  deserted  medieval  village  surveys  established  a pattern 
of  scholarship  based  on  national  and  local  documents,  maps  and  early  photographs,  and 
direct  field  observation.  Beresford’s  skill  lay  in  identifying  a historical  phenomenon, 
researching  the  topic  thoroughly  at  local  or  county  level  and  then  on  that  firm  foundation 
widening  the  study  into  a national  survey.  This  technique  was  successfully  applied  to  medieval 
‘New  Towns’.  It  was  later  used  in  early  modern  Leeds,  examining  first  a compact  group  of 
streets  and  then  tackling  the  bigger  canvas  of  the  Victorian  city.  The  national  study  The  Lost 
Villages  of  England  (1954)  led  directly  to  his  promotion  to  Reader  in  the  following  year, 
while  his  landscape  study,  jointly  with  Kenneth  St.  Joseph,  Medieval  England:  an  aerial 
survey  (1958)  was  soon  followed  by  his  appointment  to  a newly-created  post  as  Professor  of 
Economic  History.  His  inaugural  lecture  Time  and  Place  (1961;  enlarged  book  1985) 
highlighted  his  two  abiding  emphases  in  economic  history  rather  than  person,  motivation 
or  deed:  it  was  history  with  its  feet  planted  securely  on  the  ground. 

As  a professor  he  was  expected  to  participate  fully  in  administration  as  dean  or  chairman 
of  academic  boards.  These  duties  were  carried  out  firmly  but  always  fairly.  More  eagerly 
awaited  were  his  contributions  to  Senate  debates  where  he  could  deftly  puncture  the 
pomposity  of  the  self-important  or  could  in  a few  pithy  sentences  expose  the  frailty  of  some 
‘management-speak’  argument.  This  was  an  acerbic  aspect  he  never  displayed  among  the 
community  of  fellow  researchers  at  Claremont. 

The  excavations  at  Wharram  Percy  on  the  chalk  wolds  of  east  Yorkshire  were  begun  in 



1950  as  a trial  to  verify  the  documentary  evidence  and  to  establish  a date  for  the  village’s 
desertion.  This  work  continued  for  40  years  each  July  with  Maurice  as  the  social  organiser 
or  camp  manager  but  with  John  Hurst  providing  the  archaeological  expertise  for  a loyal 
band  of  volunteers  who  endured  the  fairly  primitive  living  conditions  in  a spirit  of  camaraderie. 
Many  of  these  participants  also  assisted  Maurice  and  John  in  running  the  Deserted  Medieval 
Village  Research  Group  until  the  two  leaders  ‘retired’  in  1986.  This  retirement  was  marked 
by  a joint  festschrift  The  Rural  Settlements  of  Medieval  England  edited  by  three  of  their 
junior  assistants,  all  of  them  now  professors.  The  partnership  of  “the  prolix  professor  and 
the  taciturn  Man  from  the  Ministry’’  provided  a research  stimulus  that  extended  throughout 
the  British  Isles  and  across  Europe.  This  was  the  longest  and  most  fruitful  of  a number  of 
collaborations  with  fellow  scholars  and  younger  research  students,  as  Maurice  was  always 
willing  to  share  his  expertise  rather  than  jealously  guard  his  own  vast  store  of  knowledge. 

After  deserted  villages  Maurice  sought  a fresh  challenge  which  he  found  in  medieval  ‘New 
Town’  plantations  and  failures.  Again  his  local  studies  into  settlements  such  as  Wyke-on- 
Hull,  Hedon  and  Ravenserodd  on  the  Humber  estuary  formed  a secure  foundation  before 
expanding  the  survey  to  cover  all  England,  Wales  and  Gascony.  This  substantial  publication 
(1967)  was  again  followed  by  a change  of  direction.  First  was  a sabbatical  year  spent  at  the 
College  of  William  and  Mary  in  Virginia  where  he  was  delighted  to  have  the  ‘new  town’  of 
Williamsburg  on  his  doorstep.  Secondly  he  concentrated  increasingly  on  Leeds,  initially 
analysing  the  streets  around  the  university  where  a memorable  series  of  lectures  and  guided 
tours  became  Walks  Round  Redbrick  (1980).  This  was  followed  by  a thorough  exploration 
of  the  local  housing  divide  between  artisan  and  factory  owner  in  East  End,  West  End:  the 
face  of  Leeds  during  urbanisation,  1684-1842(1988).  In  both  cases  he  recorded  the  changes 
through  documents,  photographs  and  direct  observation  ahead  of  building  demolition. 
Professor  Beresford’s  retirement  in  1985  was  marked  nationally  by  his  election  as  a Fellow 
of  the  British  Academy  and,  locally,  by  a characteristically  reminiscent  and  frank  exaugural 
lecture.  Maurice  was  an  excellent  teacher  and  a witty  and  entertaining  lecturer.  He  almost 
always  used  slides  which  prompted  so  many  personal  digressions  that  an  hour’s  lecture  often 
extended  far  beyond  the  allotted  time.  Four  honorary  degrees  and  the  post  of  Visiting 
Professor  in  Urban  Histoiy  at  Strathclyde  further  distinguished  his  retirement,  but  his 
elevation  to  the  title  of  emeritus  professor  and  an  honorary  degree  from  the  university  he 
had  served  so  faithfully  gave  him  particular  pleasure.  He  was  also  honoured  when  eighteen 
of  his  university  colleagues  contributed  to  an  eightieth-birthday  festschrift  volume  of  Northern 
History. * 

At  Claremont  he  was  an  active  Patron  to  the  Thoresby  Society  for  over  20  years.  To  our 
own  Society  he  gave  almost  unbroken  service  on  Council  from  1961  until  he  was  elected 
Vice-President  in  1987.  He  also  served  on  the  library  and  the  editorial  committees,  attending 
assiduously  and  participating  constructively,  more  especially  after  he  moved  from  Adel  to  a 
house  adjacent  to  Claremont.  In  Council  a gently  remonstrative  comment  could  take  the 
acrimony  out  of  some  hotly  debated  topic  or  a succinct  contribution  could  give  new  focus 
and  clarity  to  an  otherwise  meandering  discussion.  His  penetrating  questions  at  lectures, 
after  an  apparently  comatose  hour,  would  highlight  some  point  left  imperfectly  explained  or 
might  add  a pertinent  example  from  a little-known  documentary  source.  However  there  was 
never  a parade  of  his  own  knowledge  from  any  sense  of  superiority  or  to  belittle  the  lecturer. 

MAURICE  BERESFORD,  M.A.,  D.LITT.  (HON.),  F.B.A.  (1920-2005) 


It  was  always  the  charitable  side  of  Maurice  that  we  saw  at  Claremont. 

His  charity  of  action  extended  to  visiting  the  socially  deprived,  young  offenders  and 
prisoners,  and  to  hosting  the  strangers,  whether  touring  actors  or  opera  singers.  His  help 
also  benefited  the  underdog  - literally  so  with  his  succession  of  more-or-less  house-trained 
mongrels  of  unprepossessing  appearance.  His  fond  dedication  in  Walks  Round  Redbrick  is 
to  ‘Lulu,  companion  in  the  walks  whose  four  feet  were  usually  there  first’. 

In  his  retirement  Maurice  was  very  much  at  home  in  Claremont:  indeed  it  might  be 
regarded  as  the  parlour  and  library  extension  of  his  own  terraced  house.  Now  at  his  death 
with  characteristic  generosity  his  two  adjoining  houses  have  become  an  extension  of  our 
premises  and  a resource  donated  for  the  society’s  benefit  and  its  pursuit  of  scholarship.  We 
shall  remember  Maurice  for  his  breadth  of  interests,  his  easy  companionship  and  his 
generosity  of  spirit.  We  elected  him  as  our  vice-president  but  he  has  in  reality  become  our 

Lawrence  Buder 

* E.  A.  Kirkby,  ‘Maurice  Beresford,  the  man,  time  and  place’,  Essays  on  Northern  History  in 
honour  of  Maurice  W.  Beresford:  Northern  History  37  (2000),  1-12. 




FERRYBRIDGE  HENGE  THE  RITUAL  LANDSCAPE.  Archaeological  Investigations  at 
the  Site  of  the  Holmfield  Interchange  of  the  A1  Motorway. Yorkshire  Archaeology  10,  2005. 
ed.  I.  Roberts.  30.3  x 21.7cm.  Pp  ix  and  278.  Figs. 141.  Plates  32.  Tables  26.  Archaeology 
Services  WYAS.  £20  p+p  £7.  ISBN  1 870453  36  0. 

This  excellently  produced  monograph  describes,  in  the  main,  the  excavations  that  took 
place  between  2001  and  2002  in  advance  of  the  A1  road  improvements  to  the  west  of  the 
Ferrybridge  henge.  I say,  in  the  main,  because  also  included  are  earlier  pieces  of  work  which 
remained  either  unpublished  or  published  in  interim  form  such  as  the  two  timber  circles  to 
the  ESE  of  the  henge  (excavated  in  1989),  a trench  over  the  field  system  and  pit  alignment 
(1990),  the  trenches  through  the  henge  itself  (1991)  and  the  trench  excavated  through  the 
complex  prior  to  the  construction  of  the  Yorkshire  Water  pipeline  (1992).  It  is  excellent  to 
see  this  body  of  information  brought  together  in  a comprehensive  and  fully  integrated  way. 

The  volume  follows  the  basic  format  of  the  excavation  report  with  sections  on  the  local 
geology  and  topography,  aims  and  objectives,  past  work  and  the  current  state  of  knowledge. 
There  then  follows  a detailed  account  of  the  excavations,  chronologically  based  from  the 
Neolithic  to  the  post  Roman  period.  Specialist  contributions  discuss  the  artefacts  (again 
chronologically  ordered),  the  environmental  investigations  (including  chemical  analyses  of 
the  human  bone  - not  strictly  speaking  environmental)  followed  by  a discussion  and  synthesis. 
Various  appendices  support  the  main  text. 

The  text  is  also  supported  by  numerous  illustrations  which  include  colour  line  drawings 
and  full  colour  photographs.  Often  the  excessive  use  of  photographs  lets  down  some  volumes 
as  their  reproduction  can  often  leave  something  to  be  desired.  Not  so  with  this  volume:  they 
are  extremely  well  reproduced  and  the  colour  certainly  enhances  the  volume.  A quibble  may 
be  the  use  of  a separate  numbering  system  for  plates  and  illustrations  (I’ve  always  found  this 
unnecessary  unless  the  plates  are  grouped  together)  and  many  of  the  section  drawings  are 
somewhat  schematic  and  look  much  more  simple  in  the  drawings  than  they  appear  in  some 
of  the  photographs.  However  the  close  integration  of  text  and  illustrative  material  is  generally 

The  section  on  the  excavated  sites  themselves  is  comprehensive  in  its  description  and 
coverage.  Based  more  or  less  chronologically,  each  site  (ring  ditch,  timber  circle,  hengiform, 
pit  alignment,  field  systems  etc)  is  discussed  separately  and  in  detail  accompanied,  as  already 
said,  by  excellent  plans  and  photographs.  The  section  is  also  well-written,  easy  to  use  and  the 
identification  of  contexts  cited  in  the  text  is  easy  on  the  well-labelled  plans.  The  paucity  of 
finds  is  an  area  where  the  present  writer  feels  empathy  with  the  Ferrybridge  team  but 
nevertheless  a suite  of  (generally)  well-chosen  radiocarbon  dates  saves  the  day.  These  dates 
are  listed  in  appendix  3 though  the  calibration  curve  and  methodology  used  are  not  cited. 
I’d  also  have  preferred  to  have  seen  the  probability  of  the  date  ranges  illustrated  on  figs  123 
and  124  for  otherwise  it  makes  dates  with  large  ranges  rather  difficult  to  interpret.  To  what 
extent,  for  excample,  are  the  Neolithic  dates  being  trapped  by  the  ‘Middle  Neolithic  Plateau’ 
in  the  calibration  curve?  And  does  the  early  date  for  timber  circle  165  really  extend  the  date 
range  for  timber  circles  (p  199)  when  it  is  derived  from  oak  charcoal?  (Indeed,  quite  a few  of 



the  Neolithic  and  Bronze  Age  dates  are  oak-derived  -Appendix  3 - which  lessens  their 
reliability  considerably).  Perhaps  there  is  a slight  tendency  to  accept  14C  dates  at  their  face 

Despite  the  paucity  of  artefacts,  there  are  some  rather  nice  Beaker  assemblages  from  the 
barrows  and  these  are  discussed  in  section  3.  This  section  is  perhaps  the  weakest  part  of  the 
volume.  The  late  Neolithic  sherd  is  listed  as  illustrated  on  fig  108  but  it  is  nowhere  to  be 
seen.  There  is  little  discussion  of  the  technology  of  the  ceramics  nor  indeed  of  their  degree 
of  completeness  and  thus  their  roles  in  the  burial  ritual.  The  later  prehistoric  and  Romano- 
British  ceramics  are  rather  better  treated  with  a discussion  as  to  function  analysis  and 
deposition.  The  flint  artefacts  are  also  described  and  discussed  well  as  is  the  rather  spectacular 
Bronze  Age  and  later  metalwork.  However  because  of  individual  specialisms,  we  have  grave 
groups  being  split  between  various  sections.  Thus  a Beaker  grave  group  will  be  divided 
between,  pottery,  flint  and  bone  artefacts  and  nowhere  does  it  appear  as  a single  assemblage 
(though  admittedly  the  K19  grave  group  appears  as  a ‘Symbols  of  Power’  type  photograph  on 

The  environmental  section  includes  analysis  of  the  human  bone  and  some  of  the  old 
questions  about  body  completeness  and  the  revisiting  of  graves  raise  themselves  between 
the  lines  but  are  not,  unfortunately  tackled.  Interestingly  the  instances  of  traumatised  skeletal 
material  seems  quite  high  so  at  least  this  flavour  of  the  month  is  on  offer.  As  is  isotope 
analysis  though  the  fact  that  the  skeletons  were  locals  who  ate  herbivores  is,  perhaps,  a less 
than  astonishing  conclusion.  Sections  on  faunal  remains,  carbonised  remains  and  soils 
complete  the  palaeoenvironmental  picture. 

The  general  discussion  section  by  Roberts  and  Richardson  is  an  excellent  resume  and 
synthesis  of  the  importance  of  the  excavations  and  places  each  element  of  the  site  in  its 
broader  context  with  some  interesting  thoughts  on  monument  orientation  and  alignment. 
There  is  a particularly  fine  discussion  of  the  later  Iron  Age  field  systems  and  other  elements 
as  well  as  an  overview  of  the  development  of  the  complex. 

Despite  my  quibbles,  this  is  an  information-packed  volume  on  an  area  that  has  for  some 
time  been  regarded  as  a bit  of  an  archaeological  (certainly  prehistoric)  desert.  It  is  certainly 
a welcome  additioOn  to  my  bookshelves  and  I hope  it  reaches  the  wide  audience  that  it 


Alex  Gibson 

LEVELS.  By  I.  ROBERTS.  29.5  x 21  cm.  Pp.  iv  and  33.  Figs.  24.  West  Yorkshire  Archaeology 
Service  (Archaeological  Services  WYAS  Publication  5)  Morley.  2003.  £5.00  (p+p  £0.75). 
ISBN  1 870453  34  4. 

WHITWOOD,  WEST  YORKSHIRE.  By  A.  BURGESS  and  I.  ROBERTS.  29.5  x 21  cm.  Pp. 
iv  and  39.  Figs.  33.  West  Yorkshire  Archaeology  Service  (Archaeological  Services  WYAS 
Publication  6)  Morley.  2004.  £5.00  (p+p  £0.75).  ISBN  1 870453  35  2. 

Yorkshire  Archaeological  Journal  78,  2006 


OF  1976  AND  1996.  Edited  by  I.  ROBERTS.  29.5  x 21  cm.  Pp.  iv  and  36.  Figs.  15.  West 
Yorkshire  Archaeology  Service  (Archaeological  Services  WYAS  Publication  7)  Morley.  2005. 
£5.00  (p+p  £0.75).  ISBN  1 870453  37  9 

YORKSHIRE.  By  R.  McNAUGHT  and  A.  WEBB.  29.5  x 21  cm.  Pp.  iv  and  44.  Figs.  21.  West 
Yorkshire  Archaeology  Service  (Archaeological  Services  WYAS  Publication  8)  Morley.  2005. 
£5.00  (p+p  £0.75).  ISBN  1 870453  35  5. 

Pp.  ii  and  22.  Figs.  22.  Pates  15.  West  Yorkshire  Archaeology  Service,  Morley.  2005.  £2.00 
(p+p  £0.75).  ISBN  1 870453  38  7 

Publications  available  from  Archaeological  Services  WYAS,  PO  Box  30,  Nepshaw  Lane 
South,  Morley,  Leeds,  LS27  0UG.  Cheques  payable  to  Wakefield  Metropolitan  District 

A quick  search  of  the  Oxbow  Books  website  failed  to  reveal  any  of  the  volumes  listed  here 
- a great  pity  for  those  not  ‘in  the  know’.  To  leave  Pontefract  Castle  aside  for  a moment  the 
first  four  of  the  publications  considered  here  form  valuable  additions  to  the  Archaeology 
Services  (WYAS)  Publications  series.  This  ‘Occasional  Series’  as  it  is  termed  on  their  website 
continues  to  provide  a vehicle  for  getting  regionally  important  material  into  the  public 
domain,  much  of  which  would  either  remain  buried  in  ‘grey  lit’  reports  and  only  accessible 
by  visiting  the  relevant  Historic  Environment  Record  (SMR)  - future  online  access  may 
alleviate  this  difficulty.  However  who  wants  to  wait? 

The  Topham  Farm  report  describes  the  investigation  of  nine  ring-gullies  (roundhouses) 
that  form  part  of  a Late  Iron  Age  and  Romano-British  enclosed  settlement  (second  or  first 
century  BC  to  early  third  century  AD),  with  two  major  phases  being  recognised  within  the 
excavated  evidence.  The  structures  were  set  within  two  major  enclosures,  within  which 
further  sub-enclosures  were  identified.  The  site  produced  a significant  assemblage  of  Late 
Iron  Age  pottery  as  well  as  a reasonable  assemblage  of  Roman  pottery,  and  small  quantities 
of  flint,  fired  clay,  animal  bone  and  charred  plant  remains  - the  latter  providing  the  material 
for  seven  radiocarbon  (AMS)  dates.  The  discovery  of  the  site  is  described  as  ‘serendipitous’ 
given  that  prior  to  a speculative  evaluation  in  advance  of  clay  extraction  ‘there  was  no 
evidence  to  indicate  that  there  had  been  any  activity  in  the  Sykehouse  area  prior  to  the 
Medieval  period’  (p.  5)  and  geophysical  survey  had  only  revealed  recent  field  drains.  The 
Iron  Age  pottery  assemblage  (110  or  111)  sherds  representing  a maximum  of  93  vessels)  is 
particularly  significant,  given  the  paucity  of  pottery  of  this  date  in  South  and  West  Yorkshire. 
The  Discussion  chapter  summarises  the  chronology  and  phasing,  the  form  of  the  settlement 
and  nature  of  the  structures  and  briefly  considers  the  limited  evidence  relating  to  the  economy 
of  the  site  before  looking  at  it  in  its  regional  context.  With  respect  to  the  latter  it  is  suggested 
that  the  location  of  the  site  challenges  the  claim  that  the  settlement  of  the  Humberhead 
Levels  was  a short-lived  Later  Roman  phenomenon,  although  the  Levels  likely  function  as 
political  and  cultural  boundary  during  the  Later  Iron  Age  and  the  early  Roman  period 

The  two  excavations,  on  sites  some  2 km  apart,  considered  in  the  Whitwood  volume  lie 



south-west  of  Castleford  and  again  primarily  deal  with  evidence  from  the  Late  Iron  Age  and 
Romano-British  periods,  although  one  of  the  sites  (Low  Common)  produced  a small  quantity 
of  lithics  of  Mesolithic  or  early  Neolithic  date  and  some  91  sherds  of  medieval  pottery,  the 
latter  apparently  from  at  least  five  sub-phases  of  agricultural  activity  primarily  of  early  twelfth 
to  late  thirteenth  century  date.  At  Low  Common  the  structural  sequence  starts  with  a 
rectilinear  field  system  possibly  incorporating  a double-ditched  trackway,  D-shaped  enclosure 
and  possibly  a further  rectilinear  enclosure  of  late  Iron  Age  or  Early  Roman  date.  This 
layout  is  replaced  by  a co-axial  field  system  based  on  east-west  sub-divisions  between  the 
major  ditches  of  the  preceding  phase  and  incorporating  evidence  of  possible  occupation  in 
sub-enclosure  A located  in  the  north-west  corner  of  Enclosure  VI  and  suggested  as  being  of 
second-century  date.  The  succeeding  phase  (?  of  second-  to  third-century  date)  was  defined 
by  the  creation  of  a further  sub-enclosure  (B)  in  the  south-east  corner  of  Enclosure  VI 
incorporating  a clearly  defined  roundhouse  - the  evidence  did  not  preclude  the  contemporary 
occupation  of  the  two  sub-enclosures.  A fourth  phase  of  occupation  is  suggested  as  belonging 
to  the  later  Roman  or  sub-Roman  period  on  stratigraphic  grounds.  The  Whitwood  Common 
report  presents  the  evidence  from  the  investigation  of  two  phases  of  enclosure,  the  first, 
which  incorporated  a plough-damaged  roundhouse,  was  of  Late  Iron  Age  to  second-century 
date  and  the  second  of  probable  third-  to  fourth-century  AD  date.  A curvilinear  gully  located 
west  of  this  later  enclosure  may  represent  a vestige  of  a contemporary  roundhouse,  although 
this  possibility  is  treated  with  caution  by  the  authors.  Interestingly,  as  with  the  later  Roman 
or  sub-Roman  occupation  at  Low  Common  the  later  occupation  at  Whitwood  Common 
apparently  represents  the  partial  reuse  for  linear  features  from  the  apparently  abandoned 
earlier  phases.  A further  shared  phenomena  is  the  existence  of  curvilinear  gullies  within  the 
roundhouses  at  both  Low  Common  and  Whitwood  Common,  although  they  may  be 
unassociated,  a similar  relationship  is  noted  at  Normanton.  Ian  Roberts  provides  a useful 
discussion  of  the  sites  in  the  context  of  the  hinterland  of  Roman  Castleford,  noting  that 
‘parts  of  the  landscape  around  Castleford  were  clearly  extensively  exploited  in  the  immediate 
pre-Roman  Iron  Age’  , but  at  the  same  time  noting  that  while  one  cannot  dismiss  a link 
between  the  expansion  of  agriculture  and  the  Roman  military  ‘...  few  excavated  sites  have 
yielded  sufficient  environmental ...  evidence  to  support  any  notion  of  them  being  specialist 
arable  or  livestock  producers  (p.  35).  Issues  of  landscape  change  and  the  nature  of  the  later 
Roman  occupation  are  also  considered. 

The  Ledston  volume  reports  two  excavations  undertaken  20  years  apart  in  1976  and  1996 
on  a cropmark  complex  located  on  the  Magnesian  Limestone  north  of  Castleford  apparently 
consisting  of  three  irregular  field  units.  In  1976  a single  trench  was  excavated  in  response  to 
agricultural  erosion  and  three  trenches  excavated  in  1996  formed  part  of  the  mitigation  of 
the  Yorkshire  Water  drought  relief  scheme.  The  earlier  excavation  targeted  a concentration 
of  pits  that  subsequently  entered  the  literature  as  representing  a large  grain  storage  area,  an 
interpretation  that  the  report  considered  here  challenges,  preferring  the  concept  of  structured 
ritual  deposition,  with  two  pits  incorporating  human  burials,  one  of  which  was  radiocarbon- 
dated  to  the  fourth  to  second  centuries  B.C.  Elements  of  three  further  individuals  were 
recovered  from  the  fills  of  a ditch  forming  part  of  a D-shaped  enclosure  (Enclosure  A).  In 
addition  a possible  roundhouse  and  two  possible  four-post  structures  were  investigated. 
The  results  of  the  1996  excavations  suggest  that  the  associated  settlement  was  dispersed  in 



character,  probably  being  represented  by  discrete  enclosures  recognisable  within  the 
cropmarks.  Unusually  the  1996  excavations  produced  evidence  for  contemporary 
ironworking,  including  both  smelting  (including  tap  slags,  furnace  slag  and  hearth  bottoms) 
in  the  vicinity  of  the  excavated  area,  as  well  as  smithing  in  close  proximity  to  the  site.  The 
1976  project  produced  a range  of  material  that  warrants  publication  includes  102  sherds  of 
Iron  Age  pottery,  94  lithics  (+  a further  44  from  fieldwalking)  ranging  from  Late  Mesolithic 
to  Early  Bronze  Age  in  date,  seven  fragments  of  quern  (3  beehive,  one  Mayen  lava  quern  and 
three  from  flat  querns)  a bone  ‘weaving  comb’,  and  1,026  fragments  of  animal  bone.  In  the 
Discussion  Ian  Roberts  provides  useful  considerations  of:  ‘chronology  and  phasing’  (four 
possible  phases:  Earlier  prehistoric  on  the  lithic  evidence  and  cropmarks  of  four  possible 
round  barrows;  PEarly/Middle  Iron  Age  - D-shaped  Enclosure  A and  possibly  sub-rectangular 
Enclosure  E;  Late  Iron  Age  - field  system  and  pits;  and  second-  to  third-century  Romano- 
British  - Padaptation  of  field  system);  ‘The  Iron  Age  field  system’;  ‘settlement  and  economy’; 
‘the  pits’;  and  ‘the  pit  burials’.  Perhaps  the  most  important  elements  of  the  discussion  are:  the 
possible  decoupling  of  the  pits  from  the  recurrent  ‘southerno-centric’  interpretation  of 
them  as  being  for  grain  storage,  although  the  possibility  of  a storage  function  is  left  open;  the 
discussion  of  Iron  Age  burial  practice  in  the  context  of  the  evidence  from  the  region;  and 
the  consideration  of  the  evidence  for  structured  deposition. 

In  contrast  the  Morton  Lane,  Beverley  report  considers  the  results  of  the  excavation  of 
twelfth-  to  later  eighteenth-century  deposits  outside  the  presumed  line  on  the  eastern  defences 
of  the  medieval  town.  The  ASWYAS  excavations  (1999  and  2001 ) were  on  the  north  side  of 
Morton  Lane.  What  is  particularly  welcome  is  the  inclusion  in  the  volume  as  an  appendix  of 
a report  on  subsequent  work  to  the  south  of  Morton  Lane  by  Pre-Construct  Archaeology 
(PCA)  in  2003-4.  The  ASWYAS  excavations  revealed  six  phases  of  occupation,  with  an 
apparent  period  of  disuse  between  the  mid  thirteenth  and  fifteenth  centuries  - overall  the 
archaeology  is  typified  by  pits  and  cut  features,  although  in  Phases  IV  and  IVa  (early  to  mid 
thirteenth  century)  structures  and  a cambered  metalled  track  were  recorded  and  Phase  II 
(late  twelfth  century)  is  dominated  by  evidence  of  alleviation.  The  site  produced  significant 
finds  assemblages,  with  pottery  (1217  sherds)  dominating  - the  bulk  deriving  from  Area  A, 
the  open  area  closest  to  Morton  Lane.  In  addition  a significant  assemblage  of  ceramic 
building  material  (brick  and  tile),  the  bulk  belonging  to  Phase  VI  (fifteenth  to  seventeenth 
centuries),  although  deriving  contexts  that  indicate  that  it  is  residual  and  in  quantities  that 
suggest  that  the  building(s)  from  which  it  was  derived  lay  beyond  the  excavated  site  - the 
presence  of  finial  tiles  suggesting  that  the  source  building  was  of  high  status.  The  site  also 
produced  eight  crudely  carved  tile  discs,  a brick  weights/net  sinkers,  a previously  unknown 
(at  least  in  our  region)  type  of  flat  roof  tile,  ridge  tiles  with  finial  holes  that  may  relate  to 
repairs  and  a fragment  of  a flat  roof  tile  with  an  Agnus  Dei  seal  impression.  Non-ceramic 
finds  are  dominated  by  iron  objects  (80%),  with  evidence  of  domestic  and  household  activity 
being  largely  confined  to  objects  from  the  Phase  VI  pits.  In  addition  a small,  but  well- 
preserved  animal  bone  assemblage  was  recovered,  along  with  pollen,  and  significant  plant 
macrofossils  and  macro-invertebrate  remains.  The  Discussion,  which  takes  account  of  the 
PCA  work  to  the  south,  puts  the  results  of  the  excavation  into  a site  narrative  that  provides 
insights  into  this  area  of  the  town,  notably  the  late  twelfth  or  early  thirteenth  century  (Phase 
III)  reclamation  of  the  area,  extensive  pitting  and  the  possible  division  of  the  area  into  plots 



or  tenements.  The  PCA  work  south  of  Morton  Lane  revealed  structural  remains  of  late 
twelfth-century  date,  succeeded  by  a short-lived  period  of  inundation  that  was  superseded 
by  further  structures  and  some  pitting  (Phase  II.3/II.4),  followed  by  a break  in  occupation  in 
the  early  fourteenth  century.  In  contrast  with  the  ASWYAS  site  it  is  possible  that  occupation 
resumed  during  the  fourteenth  centuiy,  at  least  in  the  form  of  boundary  ditches,  and  continued 
from  then  until  the  sixteenth  century,  with  structures  built  over  dumped  deposits.  A further 
difference  is  provided  by  evidence  for  structures  in  the  post-medieval  period.  Small  quantities 
of  pottery,  ceramic  building  material,  pollen,  invertebrate  and  vertebrate  remains  are  reported 
on;  the  report  concluding  with  a discussion  that  relates  the  evidence  to  that  from  the  ASWYAS 
site  and  briefly  examines  it  in  the  context  of  Beverley  as  a whole. 

The  medieval  cellar  at  Pontefract  Castle  has  a fascinating  history.  Probably  originating  as 
a wine  cellar  in  the  Norman  Period  it  was  extended  twice  and  in  the  Civil  War  served  as  a 
prison  during  the  1648-9  siege.  The  structural  history  occupies  the  first  half  of  the  volume 
and  is  a stoiy  clearly  told  and  well-illustrated  with  excellent  plans,  sections  and  photographs. 
The  second  half  is  devoted  to  the  Civil  War  inscriptions,  presumed  to  have  been  carved  by 
the  Parliamentarian  prisoners,  many  of  whom  had  formed  the  garrison  of  the  castle  prior  to 
its  fall  to  the  Royalists.  Forty-nine  inscriptions  are  recorded,  the  more  complete  being 
illustrated  with  both  line  drawings  and  photographs,  others  by  line  drawings  alone.  The 
catalogue  ends  with  a fairly  lightly  incised  portrayal  of  a gallows  that  serves  to  emphasise  the 
quality  of  the  photographs  - P Gwilliam  getting  a greatly  deserved  acknowledgement  in  the 
introductory  matter  for  producing  consistently  good  images  from  what  must  difficult  have 
been  subject  matter. 

There  are  minor  quibbles  with  the  editing  - in  the  Whitwood  volume  Stoertz  1997  (p.  22) 
lacks  a page  number  and  did  Low  Common  produce  91  (p.  19)  or  98  (p.  17)  sherds  of 
medieval  pottery?  The  Ledston  report  has  the  lava  quern  found  in  1976  as  deriving  from  the 
topsoil  (p.  19)  and  also  from  post-hole  003  (p.  25)  - the  latter  would  suggest  the  possibility  of 
some  very  small-scale  Roman-period,  or  later,  activity  within  the  excavated  area,  rather  than 
all  the  limited  Roman-period  material  deriving  from  a nearby  source.  In  addition  the  lava 
quern  fragment  is  not  included  in  the  consideration  of  the  evidence  for  a Roman  phase  in 
the  Discussion  chapter  (p.  30).  However,  it  should  be  emphasised  that  these  minor  glitches 
do  not  detract  from  the  overall  value  of  the  reports. 

The  Archaeology  Services  WYAS  Publications  volumes  are  all  A4  format  and  staple  bound. 
Illustrations  are  generally  clear,  although  with  a tendency  for  some  detail  to  be  close  to  being 
lost  on  some  pottery  drawings  (eg.  Topham  Farm  Fig.  20  nos.  43a-45).  However,  the  Morton 
Lane,  Beverley  report  uses  a higher  quality  paper  and,  possibly,  a different  printing  process 
which  appears  to  give  a better  finished  result. 

Portsmouth  Pete  Wilson 

ROMAN  YORK  by  Patrick  Ottaway(2004)  24.8  x 17.2cm.  Pp.160  Figs  86.  Tempus 
Publishing.  £17.99.  ISBN  0 7524  2916  7 

Readers  will  no  doubt  be  aware  that  this  slim  volume  is  a welcome  reissue  of  the  earlier 
English  Heritage  / Batsford  title  of  the  same  name,  published  in  1993.  The  author  is  careful 



to  note  this  lineage  in  the  preface,  and  to  outline  the  differences  from  the  earlier  publication. 
As  he  says,  the  publication  over  the  last  decade  of  important  reports  on  the  Minster  as  well 
as  those  on  the  defences  and  the  pottery  sequences  within  York  add  a welcome  precision  to 
his  earlier,  understandably  more  cautious,  text.  The  major,  and  ‘unsettling’  change  is  noted 
here  too:  the  re-dating  of  the  Micklegate  bathhouse  (p.100)  and,  more  significantly,  the 
defences  of  the  fortress  and  their  multiangular  towers,  to  the  early  third  century.  I shall 
return  to  this  point  later.  While  the  decade  between  the  two  editions  has  been  useful  in 
adding  precision  (a  nice  example  of  this  being  the  tying  up  of  a graffito  on  leather  found  on 
the  General  Accident  site  with  a centurial  stone  erected  by  Marcus  Sollius  Julianus  on 
Hadrian’s  Wall;  p.102),  there  has  been  less  welcome  change  too.  Notably,  the  decrease  in  size 
from  the  earlier  edition  which  has  made  the  illustrations  less  easy  to  read  in  the  new  book 
where  plans  in  particular  suffer  from  over-reduction  (e.g.  Figure  40b  - the  plan  of  Blake 
Street).  Also,  the  reformatting  has  resulted  inevitably  in  changes  leading  to  occasional 
references  to  non-existent  illustrations  (e.g.  that  to  plate  18  on  p.124).  This  is  minor  criticism, 
and  I would  rather  highlight  the  author’s  justified  concern  (p.22)  over  the  fragmentation  of 
understanding  of  the  city’s  archaeology  that  is  being  brought  about  by  the  PPG  16  environment 
so  that  the  explosion  of  commercially  financed  excavation  is  no  longer  overseen  by  one 
organisation.  Such  developments  in  British  archaeology  will,  in  the  future,  inevitably  hinder 
synthesis  such  as  is  offered  in  this  volume  and  surely  undermine  the  spirit  of  the  1979 
Archaeological  Areas  Act  which  was  meant  both  to  protect  the  complex  archaeology  of 
cities  like  York,  and  foster  greater  understanding  of  their  history.  Given  this  background, 
the  author  is  to  be  commended  for  gathering  together  such  a wealth  of  information  and 
condensing  it  into  a useful  and  thoughtful  synthesis. 

In  terms  of  balance,  the  bulk  in  the  volume  lies  in  the  early  Roman  period,  including  the 
newly  enhanced  sections  on  the  Severan  period.  Together,  these  elements  now  take  on  an 
even  more  dominant  role  in  the  narrative  (over  100  pages  in  total,  in  contrast  to  the  last 
century  of  Roman  rule  which  is  covered  in  fewer  than  20).  In  this  larger,  first  part  of  the 
book,  the  new  sources  of  information  referred  to  above  come  to  the  fore:  the  discussion  in 
respect  of  whether  the  basilica  had  arcaded  internal  colonnades  or  not,  for  example  raises 
interesting  structural  issues  about  the  superstructure  of  this  important  building  (p.40;  at 
Wroxeter,  we  pondered  the  same  issues  for  the  baths  basilica  but  there  opted  for  timber 
lintels  rather  than  arcades).  The  outlining  of  the  pottery  sequences  now  determined  for  the 
fortress  and  colonia  is  a valuable  addition  (p.55)  and  establishes  the  broad  economic  outlines 
of  the  settlement,  a factor  picked  up  later  in  the  discussion  of  York’s  notable  evidence  for 
foreign  settlers  and  their  often  exotic  religions  (p.  105-7;  113-15).  This  is  part  of  an  extensive, 
and  welcome,  discussion  of  the  civilian  settlement  of  York  that  shifts  the  limelight  away  from 
the  usually  dominant  concerns  of  the  military  and  the  layout  of  the  fortress.  There  is  now  a 
range  of  information  on  different  building  types  and  we  are  at  last  reaching  an  understanding 
of  the  range  of  settlement  in  the  colonia.  Sections  on  the  ecology  and  diet  of  the  inhabitants 
demonstrate  the  wealth  of  archaeological  data  now  available  to  colour  our  understanding  of 
the  settlement. 

For  those  working  outside  of  York,  the  biggest  and  most  interesting  change,  however, 
comes  in  the  re-dating  of  the  fortress  wall  to  the  Severan  period.  The  evidence  is  outlined  on 
p.67ff  and  can  only  be  presented  in  a summarised  form:  this  is  not,  after  all,  a full  technical 



report.  Nonetheless,  the  conclusion  that  the  fortress  wall  dates  to  this  early  period  with  such 
unusual  features  is  remarkable  to  say  the  least.  It  may  be  a reflection  of  the  importance 
placed  on  the  elevation  of  York  to  the  status  of  provincial  capital  and  colonia  at  this  time  but 
I note  that  the  new  catalogue  for  the  Constantine  exhibition  draws  close  parallels  between 
the  mutliangular  towers  in  York  with  those  of  the  early  fourth  century  fortress  palace  of 
Gamzigrad  [Felix  Romuliana),  while  stopping  short  of  re-dating  the  York  wall  to  the  late 
third  or  early  fourth  century  (Bidwell  2006).  While  one  cannot  conjure  evidence  out  of  thin 
air  for  late  Roman  York,  it  is  remarkable  that  the  archaeology  of  the  capital  of  Britannia 
Secunda  can  be  dealt  with  so  briefly.  Given  the  evidence  for  the  increasing  wealth  of 
Cirencester  due  to  its  role  as  capital  of  Britannia  Prima  (Faulkner,  in  Holbrook  1998,  379- 
384)  it  is  indeed  odd  that  York  does  not  exhibit  a similar  pattern,  benefiting  as  it  must  have 
done  from  the  location  of  the  provincial  administration  and  army  there.  If  there  were  any 
period  that  deserves  more  attention,  it  is  surely  this  latest  phase,  whose  potential  magnificence 
is  so  aptly  celebrated  in  York  City  Museums  and  Art  Gallery’s  exhibition  of  2006.  Hopefully, 
by  the  time  a third  edition  is  due,  there  will  be  substantially  more  to  say  about  this  valuable 
and  important  period  in  York’s  history  to  enhance  an  otherwise  excellent  work. 

University  of  Birmingham  Dr  Roger  White 

ROMAN  MOSAICS  AT  HULL  (3rd  edn.).  By  D.  J.  SMITH  (revised  by  M.  FOREMAN).  26.5 
x 20  cm.  Pp  50.  Figs.  21  (most  in  colour).  Hull  Museums  and  Art  Gallery,  2005.  £4.99.  ISBN 
0904490  34  3 (Pbk). 

Those  of  us  interested  in  Roman  Yorkshire  are  fortunate  in  that  we  have  the  benefit  of 
Hull  Museum’s  wonderful  collection  of  mosaics  to  hand,  a collection  all  the  more  remarkable 
given  the  relative  dearth  of  highly  Romanised  sites  in  our  region. 

The  third  edition  of  this  remarkable  guide  benefits  not  only  from  the  scholarship  of  Dr 
Smith  and  revisions  arising  from  our  developing  understanding  of  the  mosaics,  but  also 
from  excellent  colour  photographs  and  eight  of  Dr  David  Neal’s  wonderful  tessera  by  tessera 
paintings.  For  those  whose  interests  take  in  Roman-period  archaeology,  and  are  not  fortunate 
enough  to  have  access  to  Dr  Neal  and  Stephen  Cosh’s  ‘Northern  Britain’  volume  in  the 
Mosaics  of  Roman  Britain  senes  (published  2002),  this  publication,  which  modestly  describes 
itself  as  a ‘booklet’  (p.  6),  is  an  essential  purchase.  In  intent  and  execution  it  is  far  more  than 
a series  of  descriptions  of  the  mosaics  from  the  villas  at  Rudston,  Brantingham,  Horkstow 
and  Harpham  displayed  in  the  Hull  and  East  Riding  Museum. 

It  is  possible  to  identify  what  may  perhaps  be  best  described  as  ‘niggles’  that  arise  from  a 
close  reading.  A site  plan  is  provided  for  Rudston  and  is  most  welcome;  unfortunately  both 
the  site  plan  (Fig.  2)  and  the  plan  of  Building  8 (Fig.  7)  are  orientated  with  north  towards  the 
bottom  corner.  This  perhaps  makes  for  a neater  design,  and,  in  the  case  of  Building  8 
provides  what  is  perhaps  the  ideal  view  of  Dr  Neal’s  painting  of  the  charioteer  mosaic  that, 
with  its  fellows  from  the  building,  is  superimposed  onto  the  plan.  However  readers  familiar 
with  the  site  will  need  to  engage  in  mental  gymnastics  when  using  the  plans  in  any 
consideration  of  the  site!  That  having  been  said  it  might  have  been  better  for  plans  of  the 
structures  that  contained  the  mosaics  to  have  been  included  where  possible  (Brantingham 
and  Harpham)  despite  them  representing  single  elements  of  what  would  have  been  more 


2 55 

extensive  complexes. 

Those  considerations  aside  this  is  a book  about  mosaics  and  with  respect  to  its  core 
subject  matter  it  is  difficult  to  fault  it.  Going  far  beyond  simple  descriptions  of  the  designs 
we  are  informed  in  clear  language  about  the  circumstances  of  discovery,  the  mythology 
represented  and  parallels  for  the  designs.  All  of  this  is  supported  by  a glossary  that  explains 
any  terms  used  in  the  text  that  might  be  unfamiliar  to  the  reader,  as  well  as  incorporating 
potted  ‘biographies’  of  gods  represented  in  the  mosaics.  In  addition  there  is  a very  useful 
bibliography,  running  to  some  85  entries. 

The  descriptions  of  the  Rudston  mosaics,  perhaps  surprisingly  to  many  readers  not  familiar 
with  the  subject,  make  several  references  to  parallels  with  the  mosaics  of  North  Africa,  as 
well  as  the  wider  Roman  world.  Examples  include:  citing  the  ‘stage  names’  of  animals  that 
would  have  appeared  in  the  amphitheatre;  the  appearance  of  the  attributes  of  Bacchus;  and 
the  use  of  motifs  such  as  the  ‘crescent  on  a stick’  - the  symbol  of  the  venatores  Telegeniorum 
- a team  of  animal  fighters  known  from  North  Africa.  While  suggesting  that  the  commissioning 
of  such  designs  by  the  inhabitants  of  Roman  Yorkshire  points  to  the  ‘vitality  of  Roman 
culture  on  the  northern  fringe  of  the  civilised  world’,  the  text  at  the  same  time  keeps  our  feet 
very  firmly  on  good  Yorkshire  soil.  The  quality  of  the  draughtsmanship  of  the  Venus  mosaic 
is  recognised  as  potentially  the  work  of  ‘a  semi-skilled  native  British  craftsman’,  as  is  the 
likely  derivation  of  the  designs  ‘from  copybooks  ultimately  of  African  origin’,  rather  than 
reflecting  first  hand  experience  of  Africa  Proconsularis. 

Whatever  the  technical  considerations  it  is  difficult  not  to  have  warm  feelings  towards  the 
Rudston  Charioteer,  the  Brantingham  ‘Tyche’  and  the  other  mosaics  featured.  Debased  they 
may  be  when  compared  with  the  ‘high  art’  of  sites  in  the  Mediterranean,  but  in  fourth- 
century  Yorkshire  they  must  have  been  things  of  wonder.  Even  the  apparently  simple  geometric 
mosaic  from  Harpham  is  a thing  of  beauty.  The  visual  allusion  in  the  mosaic  to  the  Minotaur’s 
labyrinth  would  have  been  lost  on  the  tenants  of  the  villa  owner.  However,  if  they  were 
allowed  anywhere  near  the  room  containing  the  mosaics  they  must  still  have  been  awestruck 
by  what  they  found  under  their  feet. 

The  quality  of  the  illustrations  has  been  referred  to  previously  and  the  production  of  the 
text  is  to  a similarly  high  standard,  this  makes  for  an  extremely  attractive  publication  at  a 
very  modest  price. 

Portsmouth  Pete  Wilson 

AND  NETWORKS.  By  Emiliajamroziak.  Brepols,  Medieval  Church  Studies  8,  Turnhout 
2005,  pp.  xii  + 252. 

Monastic  cartularies  are  among  the  most  plentiful  sources  for  the  history  of  twelfth-  and 
thirteenth-century  England.  Few  high  medieval  cartularies,  however,  have  been  subjected  to 
the  detailed  scrutiny  given  to  that  of  Rievaulx  Abbey  by  Emiliajamroziak.  In  an  insightful 
and  lucid  study,  Jam roziak  examines  the  ways  in  which  this  major  Cistercian  house  related 
to  its  patrons,  benefactors  and  neighbours,  both  lay  and  ecclesiastical.  The  Rievaulx  cartulary 
is  of  particular  interest  as  one  of  the  earlier  Cistercian  cartularies  (dating  to  the  late  twelfth 



centuiy),  and  for  its  organisation  of  charters  by  tenurial  rather  than  topographical  principles 
- allowing  Jamroziak  to  draw  conclusions  about  the  abbey’s  early  identity  and  the  relative 
value  it  placed  on  particular  grants  and  benefactors. 

After  providing  a broad  historiographical  context  for  her  research  (with  particular 
reference  to  recent  Cistercian  studies),  Jamroziak  explores  the  Rievaulx  community’s 
relationships  with  different  categories  of  neighbour.  After  the  death  of  the  house’s  founder, 
Walter  Espec,  the  abbey  did  not  enjoy  close  relations  with  its  new  patrons,  the  Ros  family. 
Rievaulx,  however,  attracted  patronage  from  a wide  range  of  baronial  benefactors,  and  an 
even  greater  number  of  its  knightly  neighbours.  Jamroziak  discusses  sensitively  the  nature 
of  the  connections  between  abbey  and  local  aristocracy,  showing  how  lasting  social  ties  were 
forged  by  the  process  and  equalisation  of  benefaction,  the  confirmation  of  others’  grants 
and  the  witnessing  of  charters.  The  regular  land  disputes  faced  by  the  monks  are  also  discussed 
and  placed  in  the  context  of  wider  social  and  tenurial  networks.  These  themes  of  mutual 
support  and  conflict  are  then  studied  in  the  ecclesiastical  sphere,  through  an  examination  of 
Rievaulx’s  varied  contacts  with  other  monasteries  and  with  the  ecclesiastical  authorities  of 
the  northern  province. 

Throughout  the  study,  Jamroziak  brings  out  well  the  tension  between  the  abbey’s  need  to 
create  fruitful  social  ties  while  preserving  its  Cistercian  character.  The  early  abbots  of 
Rievaulx  succeeded  in  building  up  a large  landed  endowment,  without  allowing  the  house  to 
fall  under  the  strong  influence  of  any  one  family.  Similarly,  the  monastery  maintained  good 
relations  with  the  archbishops  of  York  and  the  bishops  of  Durham,  partly  through  personal 
contacts  and  partly  through  its  (apparently  pragmatic)  reluctance  to  acquire  tithes.  Yet 
Jamroziak  sensibly  argues  for  studying  Rievaulx  in  its  local  context,  rather  than  judging  the 
house  by  its  success  or  failure  to  live  up  to  the  statutes  of  the  general  chapter.  Indeed,  one  of 
the  most  interesting  conclusions  of  the  book  is  the  author’s  suggestion  that  the  Yorkshire 
Cistercians  had  more  in  common  with  their  Polish  or  Silesian  equivalents  than  with  French 
houses,  so  often  taken  as  the  normative  yardstick  of  the  order. 

This  wider  geographical  perspective  is  undoubtedly  one  of  the  book’s  greatest  strengths, 
although  there  is  also  much  of  value  here  for  the  student  of  Yorkshire  monasteries,  topography 
and  social  elites.  There  are  of  course  limitations  to  what  a cartulary  can  tell  us  about  the 
history  of  a monastic  community,  with  the  inevitable  emphasis  on  land  holding  and  property 
disputes;  and  the  relatively  small  size  of  the  Rievaulx  archive  sometimes  makes  it  difficult  to 
draw  wider  conclusions,  or  test  broader  hypotheses.  The  early  date  of  the  cartulary  also 
means  that  this  study  reveals  rather  more  about  the  twelfth-century  phase  of  the  abbey’s 
development  than  the  consolidation,  leasing  and  purchase  of  property  in  the  thirteenth 
century.  Nevertheless,  Emiliajamroziak’s  book  demonstrates  how  fruitful  the  close  study  of 
individual  cartularies  can  be  for  deepening  our  understanding  of  the  relations  between 
monasteries  and  society. 

University  of  Liverpool  Martin  He  ale 



P.S.  Barnwell,  Claire  Cross  and  Ann  Rycraft.  18.5  cm  x 24.5  cm.  Pp.  224.  Spire  Books  Ltd., 
Reading,  2005.  Price:  £24.95.  ISBN  1 904965  02  4. 

The  Use  of  York,  the  liturgical  tradition  of  the  pre-Reformation  diocese  and  province  of 
York,  is  very  much  the  poor  relation  to  the  Use  of  Sarum  (or  Salisbury),  which  by  1500  was 
the  dominant  liturgy  the  neighbouring  province  of  Canterbury.  Relatively  under-studied, 
the  York  Use  bore  testimony  to  the  vibrant  regionalisation  of  the  English  church  before  the 
uniformity  imposed  with  adherence  to  the  Church  of  England  in  the  sixteenth  century. 

This  volume’s  sub-title  suggests  that  the  balance  in  liturgical  studies  may  be  somewhat 
redressed  by  its  content,  but  that  does  not  actually  happen.  The  Use  of  York  only  becomes 
significant  in  Section  2,  as  attention  focuses  on  the  Requiem  Mass  in  the  York  rite, 
culminating  in  a parallel  English  and  Latin  text  (pp.  147-71)  produced  by  P.S.  Barnwell,  Allan 
B.  Barton,  and  Ann  Rycraft.  Before  that,  the  same  authors  give  An  introduction  to  the 
Requiem  Mass  in  the  Use  of  York’,  and  John  Hawes  and  Lisa  Colton  add  A note  on  the 
reconstructed  Requiem  Mass  held  at  All  Saints’,  North  Street,  York,  on  20  April  2002’.  That 
mass  was  offered  for  the  prominent  York  merchant,  Nicholas  Blackburn,  jr.  (d.  1448);  it 
provided  the  stimulus  for  the  talks,  which  lie  behind  the  articles  in  Section  1,  on  ‘The  Mass 
and  church  life  in  late-medieval  York’.  These  occupy  the  greater  part  of  the  volume,  dealing 
with  various  aspects  of  religious  practice  and  organisation  within  the  city.  Some  of  them  are 
outline,  but  useful,  introductions;  others  more  specific  case  studies.  Claire  Cross  and  P.S. 
Barton  begin  by  putting  ‘The  Mass  in  its  urban  setting’.  Allan  B.  Barton  offers  an  introduction 
to  ‘The  ornaments  of  the  altar  and  the  ministers  in  Late-Medieval  England’,  dealing  primarily 
with  vestments.  Lisa  Colton  briefly  examines  ‘Choral  music  in  York,  1400-1540’.  In  “‘Four 
hundred  masses  on  the  four  Fridays  next  after  my  decease”.  The  care  of  souls  in  fifteenth- 
century  All  Saints’  North  Street,  York’,  P.S.  Barnwell  provides  a parish-centred  analysis  of 
late  medieval  ‘strategies  for  eternity’,  particularly  among  the  laity.  Claire  Cross  then  turns  to 
the  clergy,  to  consider  ‘A  York  priest  and  his  parish:  Thomas  Worrall  at  St  Michael, 
Spurriergate,  York,  in  the  early  sixteenth  century’.  She  also  provides  the  last  article  in  this 
section  - entitled  ‘Endings  and  beginnings’  - which  deals  with  the  changes  of  the  Reformation, 
through  to  the  reign  of  Elizabeth. 

This  is  an  interesting  volume.  Accessibly  written,  and  abundantly  illustrated,  it  certainly 
works  as  an  introduction  to  ‘mass  and  parish  in  late  medieval  England',  especially  with  its 
useful  pictures  of  vestments  and  various  stages  of  the  mass  (the  latter  neatly  juxtapose 
modern  photographs  with  illustrations  from  a sixteenth-century  book  which  tackled  such 
choreographic  issues).  The  focus  on  York,  and  on  concrete  (and  extant)  parochial  and 
architectural  settings,  also  helps  to  make  it  work.  It  is  a real  contribution  to  York’s  religious 
history;  it  should  be  of  wider  interest  both  within  and  without  Yorkshire;  it  can  also  be 
recommended  to  students  as  a way  into  the  practicalities  of  medieval  religion. 

University  of  Birmingham 

R.  N.  Swanson 



LONDESBOROUGH  HOUSE  AND  ITS  COMMUNITY,  1590-1643.  By  Richard  T.  Spence, 
edited  by  A.  Hassell  Smith.  30  x 21  cm.  Pp  115.  Figs  9.  Pis  21.  East  Yorkshire  Local  History 
Society,  2005.  Price:  £ 10  (inc.  p.  & p.).  ISBN  900349  53  0.  Obtainable  from  A.  G.  Credland, 
c/o  Hull  Maritime  Museum,  Queen  Victoria  Square,  Hull,  HU  1 3RA. 

On  her  marriage  in  the  mid  fifteenth  century  to  John  Clifford,  subsequently  ninth  Baron 
Clifford,  Margaret  Bromflete,  heir  of  Henry  Bromflete,  Lord  Vescy,  brought  Londesborough 
to  the  Clifford  family.  Their  patrimony,  now  stretching  from  the  Humber  to  the  Solway 
Firth,  continued  to  be  administered  from  Skipton  Castle  until  the  last  decade  of  Elizabeth’s 
reign  when  Lord  Francis  Clifford,  who  was  managing  the  estates  for  his  elder  brother, 
George  Clifford,  third  earl  of  Cumberland,  courtier  and  privateer,  decided  to  settle  at 
Londesborough.  Having  acquired  the  East  Riding  lands  from  the  impoverished  third  earl  in 
1588,  a year  before  his  marriage  to  Grissell  Hughes,  the  young  widow  of  Edward  Neville, 
seventh  Lord  Abergavenny,  Francis  Clifford  immediately  began  building  a grand  three  storey 
mansion  with  a formal  pleasure  garden,  bowling  green,  orchard,  and  woods  adjoining  the 
Vescy  manor  house.  The  family,  which  until  then  had  been  living  at  Lady  Grissell’s  house  at 
Uxbridge,  moved  into  their  new  house  in  1592.  Thirteen  years  later  on  the  premature  death 
of  his  brother  Francis  Clifford  succeeded  to  the  title  as  the  fourth  earl  of  Cumberland,  and 
for  the  next  forty  years,  although  the  family  from  time  to  time  resided  at  Skipton  Castle  and 
their  other  houses  in  Craven,  Westmorland  and  London,  Londesborough  remained  the 
chief  focus  of  the  estate. 

The  chance  survival  of  a series  wage  lists  and  other  papers  has  made  it  possible  to 
reconstruct  the  household  which  inhabited  this  house  in  very  considerable  detail.  In  addition 
to  the  family,  which  at  various  dates  in  the  1590s  consisted  of  Lord  Clifford,  his  wife  and 
their  three  children,  Lady  Clifford’s  eldest  brother  Robert  Hughes,  his  wife  and  their  seven 
children,  and  the  five  orphaned  nephews  and  nieces  of  Lord  Clifford’s  late  sister,  there  were 
the  senior  officers,  the  steward,  usher  and  chamberlain,  a chaplain,  schoolmaster,  professional 
musicians,  gentlewomen  attendants,  and  an  array  of  domestic  servants  together  with 
numerous  out  servants  called  in  to  perform  duties  when  required.  On  inheriting  the  title  the 
new  earl  needed  to  recruit  even  more  servants  including  some  of  his  brother’s  most 
experienced  officers,  and  the  household  doubled  in  size.  While  some  might  spend  only  a 
short  period  in  noble  service,  Lady  Grissell’s  young  gentlewomen  for  a mere  two  or  three 
years  before  their  marriage,  and  the  kitchen  boys  and  the  laundry  girls  for  an  equally  short 
time  while  they  learnt  a trade,  many  of  the  senior  officers  and  more  important  domestics 
stayed  with  the  family  for  the  whole  of  their  adult  lives. 

Richard  Spence  left  this  innovatory  household  study  unfinished  at  his  death.  It  has  been 
revised  for  publication  by  A.  Hassell  Smith,  who  has  also  supplied  a scholarly  introduction. 

University  of  York  Claire  Cross 



YORK  AND  THE  JACOBITE  REBELLION  OF  1745.  By  Jonathan  Oates,  University  of 
York,  Borthwick  Paper  107,  2005,  pages  [iv],  38. 

Dr  Oates  obtained  his  Ph.D.  at  Reading  University  with  a thesis  on  ‘Responses  in  North 
East  England  to  the  Jacobite  Rebellions  of  1715  and  1745’.  This  clearly  stood  him  in  good 
stead  for  writing  this  Borthwick  Paper,  as  a study  of  the  footnotes  reveals.  There  are  no 
fewer  than  254  of  them,  taking  up  more  than  six  of  the  pamphlet’s  38  pages,  which  is  surely 
disproportionate?  They  cite  an  impressive  range  of  manuscripts  located  in  Leeds,  London, 
Sheffield  and  York,  as  well  as  numerous  printed  sources  and  secondary  authorities.  This  is 
about  as  authoritative  a text  as  is  likely  ever  to  be  published  on  the  subject  of  York’s  response 
to  the  ‘Forty  - five. 

It  also  casts  light  on  national  concerns.  Jacobitism  has  attracted  a great  deal  of  attention  in 
recent  years.  Many  historians  claim  that  it  was  a significant  phenomenon,  with  considerable 
support  in  the  country,  particularly  among  the  Tories  and  the  lower  orders.  It  has  even  been 
maintained  that  the  1745  Rebellion  came  near  to  toppling  the  Hanoverians  from  their  throne. 
Certainly  the  advance  of  the  Young  Pretender  as  far  as  Derby  put  the  wind  up  many  supporters 
of  the  regime.  Yet  he  turned  back  to  Scotland  and  defeat  at  Culloden  because  his  best 
advisers  became  aware  that  they  were  not  recruiting  enthusiastic  supporters  as  they  advanced 

This  study  demonstrates  that  in  one  local  community  at  least  there  was  overwhelming 
support  for  George  II  among  his  subjects.  The  Whigs  of  course  came  out  for  him.  But  the 
Tories  too  demonstrated  their  loyalty.  Even  the  Catholics  did  not  stir  on  behalf  of ‘James  IIP. 
Though  their  political  opponents  suspected  them  of  disloyalty  only  a handful  of  overt  Jacobites 
are  known.  There  were  of  course  those  who  were  thought  to  be  covert  upholders  of  the 
Stuart  cause.  Among  the  usual  suspects  was  Dr  John  Burton,  who  made  a very  suspicious 
journey  to  Lancashire  at  the  height  of  the  rebellion.  Yet  as  Oates  points  out,  if  he  had  been 
a genuine  Jacobite  he  could  have  joined  the  Young  Pretender’s  army  which  made  its  way 
down  the  west  side  of  the  country,  thereby  avoiding  York.  It  has  even  been  suggested  recently 
that  the  young  painter  George  Stubbs,  who  was  studying  anatomy  in  the  city  hospital  under 
Burton,  might  have  been  a Jacobite  too.  But  that  is  to  attribute  guilt  by  association.  Stubbs’ 
true  political  allegiance  is  probably  demonstrated  by  his  most  famous  painting,  ‘Whistiejacket’, 
a horse  owned  by  the  marquis  of  Rockingham,  leader  of  the  Whigs  in  the  first  years  of 
George  Ill’s  reign.  It  has  even  been  claimed  that  the  painting  was  intended  as  an  equestrian 
portrait  of  the  king. 

York  can  reasonably  be  taken  as  a microcosm  of  England’s  provincial  towns  at  the  time  of 
the  ‘Forty-five.  In  which  case  Dr  Oates  has  hammered  yet  another  nail  in  the  coffin  of  the 
case  for  Jacobitism  having  wide  support. 

W.  A.  Speck 



West  Riding  (North),  edited  by  John  Wolffe,  Borthwick  Texts  and  Studies  31,  Borthwick 
Institute,  University  of  York  (2005),  ISBN  1-904497-10-1,  ISSN  0305  8506.  Pp.  vi  + 183; 

West  Riding  (South),  edited  by  John  Wolffe,  Borthwick  Texts  and  Studies  32,  Borthwick 
Institute,  University  of  York  (2005).  Pp.  vi  + 200; 

THE  RELIGIOUS  CENSUS  OF  1851  IN  YORKSHIRE  by  John  Wolffe,  Borthwick  Paper 
108,  Borthwick  Institute,  University  of  York  (2005)  ISSN:  0624-0913,  ISBN  1-904497-15-2, 
978-1-904497-15-8.  Pp.  33. 

The  1851  Religious  Census  has  enabled  historians  to  know  more  about  what  was  happening 
on  the  30th  March  of  that  year,  at  least  as  regards  religious  observance,  than  on  any  other 
day  in  the  nineteenth  century.  As  such  the  Census  has  been  much  consulted,  although  the 
lack  of  modern  scholarly  editions  has  meant  that  the  information  used  has  often  been 
misleading,  and  in  any  case  historians  have  been  too  apt  to  view  the  contemporary  pessimism 
about  the  results  of  the  Census  (first  voiced  by  Horace  Mann,  who  had  been  responsible  for 
master-minding  the  Census)  as  authoritative,  leading  them  to  argue  that  the  Census  is  ‘proof 
of  a decline  in  religiosity  in  the  Victorian  period.  John  Wolffe’s  careful  work  on  the  Yorkshire 
returns,  published  by  the  Borthwick  Institute,  continues  with  the  publication  of  these  three 
volumes.  He  has  previously  published  the  first  volume  of  the  Yorkshire  returns,  relating  to 
the  City  of  York  and  the  East  Riding,  and  that  volume  contained  a thorough  introduction  to 
the  editorial  method  used  in  the  two  volumes  reviewed  here  which  present  us  with  the 
returns  for  the  West  Riding.  He  has  also  published  a spin-off  article  which  helpfully  addresses 
the  historiographical  issues  raised  by  the  Yorkshire  evidence,  and  which  provides  us  with 
an  extremely  thoughtful  analysis  of  the  1851  Census  as  source  material,  exposing  its  limitations 
and  highlighting  the  possibilities  it  opens  up  for  historical  research.  The  West  Riding  material 
is  noteworthy  for  the  large  number  of  returns,  nearly  2,000  of  them,  which  is  more  than  for 
some  other  entire  counties,  and  thus  these  volumes  give  us  a mass  of  evidence  relating  the 
date  when  places  of  worship  were  built,  the  number  of  sittings,  the  number  of  attendees  at 
morning,  afternoon  and  evening  services  (if  offered),  and  there  is  often  information  about 
endowments.  Names  and  positions  of  the  compiler  (or  at  least  signatory)  of  each  return  are 
noted.  The  returns  also  provided  space  for  more  general  ‘Remarks’,  and  while  the  chance  to 
use  this  was  not  often  taken  up,  the  information  that  was  recorded  is  often  illuminating 
about  religious  practice.  We  learn,  for  example,  that  at  the  Wesleyan  Methodist  Chapel  at 
Todmorden,  the  quarterly  love  feast  was  held  on  Census  day,  and  that  ‘Sunday  scholars  are 
not  admitted  on  these  occasions’.  The  Congregational  Chapel  on  High  Street,  Bradford,  was 
closed  on  Census  day  ‘on  account  of  it  having  been  painted  the  previous  weeks’.  The  sheer 
range  of  religious  denominations  and  positions  on  offer  in  the  West  Riding  in  the  mid- 
nineteenth century  is  also  instructive:  Adventists,  Anglicans,  Atheists,  Baptists,  Benevolent 
Methodists,  Plymouth  Brethren,  Barkerites,  Roman  Catholics,  Christian  Brethren 
Congregationalists,  Baptists,  Irvingites,  ‘Israelites’,  Jews,  Latter-day  Saints,  Methodists  (of 
various  hues),  Presbyterians,  Quakers  and  Swedenborgians.  While  the  material  in  the  Census 
is  laid  out  in  a clear  fashion,  Wolffe  might  have  provided  rather  more  by  way  of  annotation: 



it  would,  for  example,  not  have  been  difficult  to  have  given  the  reader  basic  biographical 
information  on  some,  if  not  most,  of  the  individuals  mentioned  in  the  text,  whether  as 
ministers,  or  other  officials  involved  with  the  place  of  worship  concerned.  It  would  have 
been  a nice  touch  to  have  included  contemporary  prints  and  drawings  of  at  least  some  of 
these  places  of  worship  (as  Mark  Smith  did  in  his  recent  edition  of  the  1810  surveys  of 
Hampshire).  Nevertheless,  those  interested  in  the  Victorian  West  Riding  will  be  grateful  to 
Wolffe  for  giving  a definitive  edition  of  the  Census  results. 

His  spin-off  article,  also  published  by  the  Borthwick  Institute,  although  naturally  focused 
on  the  Yorkshire  material,  is  also  the  most  insightful  essay  to  date  on  the  more  general 
significance  of  the  Census,  and  the  methodological  issues  it  raises.  As  such,  it  will  be  of  use 
to  scholars  working  on  all  areas  of  the  country.  Wolffe  carefully  assesses  the  strengths  and 
limitations  of  the  Census.  Some  places  of  worship  did  not  make  it  into  the  Census:  perhaps 
just  under  2%  of  Anglican  places,  and  rather  more  nonconformist  places  were  missed  out,  as 
were  chapels  in  gaols  and  workhouses,  and  Sunday  Schools  with  places  of  worship  attached. 
A few  returns  went  missing.  This  means  that  the  Census  understates  the  number  of  attendees 
in  some  localities.  It  is  clear,  too,  that  the  clerks  in  London  responsible  for  the  number- 
crunching muddled  up  similar  sounding  names  place-names.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is 
evidence  that  figures  were  rounded  up,  and  indeed  Wolffe  suggests  that  for  those  returns 
which  were  clearly  not  based  on  an  actual  head  count  the  figures  might  have  to  be  to  be 
reduced  by  as  much  as  20%.  He  admits  that  at  a national  or  even  regional  level  these 
understated  and  overstated  figures  probably  compensate  each  other,  although  he  is  clear 
that  for  any  particular  locality  the  returns  need  to  be  looked  at  carefully,  and  cross-checked 
with  other  information.  Wolffe  addresses  three  questions  which  all  historians  who  use  the 
data  in  the  Census  need  to  think  about.  How  typical  was  Census  day;  how  do  the  number  of 
individual  attendees  relate  to  attendances  (since  some  attended  more  than  once);  and  what 
does  the  Census  tell  us  about  broader  religious  trends  in?  Wolffe  notes  that  overall  attendance 
was  affected  by  a particularly  nasty  bout  of  ‘flu  in  the  region,  and  that  it  was  a rainy  day  in 
parts  of  Yorkshire  (both  of  which  stopped  people  from  attending);  and  in  general  it  was 
noted  that  more  people  would  have  attended  in  the  summer  (but  not  at  Robin  Hood’s  Bay 
where  the  fishermen  would  have  been  at  sea).  It  is  also  clear  that  not  everyone  would  attend 
every  week.  Horace  Mann  dealt  with  the  problem  of  some  people  attending  a place  of 
worship  twice  or  even  three  times,  by  suggesting  that  to  arrive  at  a figure  of  how  many 
individuals  attended,  all  attendances  at  morning  service,  half  those  at  afternoon  service,  and 
a third  of  those  at  evening  service  should  be  added  up.  Wolffe  indicates  that  this  methodology 
does  not  always  work  for  Yorkshire,  where  sometimes  the  afternoon  service  was  the  most 
frequently  attended  service.  As  for  placing  the  Census  within  a broader  picture  of  Victorian 
religiosity  Wolffe  makes  the  important  point  that  using  it  as  evidence  of  religious  decline  is 
impossible  since  we  simply  do  not  have  comparable  sources  for  earlier  periods.  But  some 
things  can  be  said.  The  information  concerning  the  date  when  a religious  place  of  worship 
was  built  demonstrates  that  the  number  of  places  of  worship  in  Yorkshire  had  tripled  during 
the  past  fifty  years  (and  the  growth  of  Methodism  was  particularly  impressive,  leading  it  to 
have  more  places  of  worship  and  more  attendees  than  the  established  Church  by  1851). 
Wolffe  also  stresses  that  some  people  went  to  more  than  one  denomination,  and  that  traffic 
could  be  particularly  fluid  between  Methodists  and  Anglicans.  All  in  all  he  concludes  that 
nineteenth-century  Yorkshire  was  ‘more  religious’  than  might  have  been  thought  by  an 



initial  viewing  of  the  Census,  and  Wolffe’s  conclusion  needs  to  be  tested  for  other  areas  of 
the  country  as  well. 

University  of  Manchester  Jeremy  Gregory 

HULL, 1770  TO  1810.  By  Ann  Bennett.  Oblong  Creative  Ltd.;  Wetherby,  2005) 
ISBN  0 9536574  8 5 p p . 1 6 3 ; 70  illustrations,  8 tables. 

This  fascinating  history  of  retailing  in  Georgian  Hull  will  be  of  interest  to  regional  specialists 
and  historians  of  later  eighteenth-century  consumption  more  generally.  Ann  Bennett  combines 
detailed  research  into  local  records  with  supporting  fieldwork  in  the  National  Archives  and 
other  collections.  The  resulting  book  is  generously  illustrated  with  seventy  images,  including 
rare  examples  of  bill-heads  and  trade  cards. 

Commercial  directories  reveal  that  the  number  of  shops  in  Hull  increased  from  403  in 
1791  to  669  by  1810-11.  While  the  overall  rate  of  growth  was  roughly  commensurate  with  the 
rise  in  the  number  of  inhabitants  (approximately  one  shop  per  fifty  persons  at  both  dates), 
the  clothing  sector  proved  more  dynamic  and  grew  faster  than  the  population.  Data  derived 
from  the  1785-6  shop  tax  (and  other  sources)  reveal  that,  by  the  later  eighteenth  century,  a 
distinct,  fashionable  retail  centre  had  developed  in  Hull  selling  high-value  merchandise. 
These  outlets  displayed  innovation  in  marketing  techniques  and  the  range  of  products  on 
sale.  By  the  1790s,  London-  and  Manchester-  made  goods  were  commonly  advertised: 
particularly  fashionable  items,  such  as  high-waisted  Grecian-style  gowns,  Egyptian  satins, 
and  Arabian  tunics.  Newspaper  advertisements,  trade  cards,  and  handbills  indicate  that  by 
this  time  Hull’s  drapers  and  tailors  were  also  using  commercial  travellers  to  sell  in  other 
urban  centres.  Within  Hull  itself,  the  rise  of  a ready  money  trade  for  low  marked  prices 
indicates  that  the  clothing  trade  was  a keenly  competitive  business. 

Alongside  newer  developments,  Bennett  demonstrates  that  innovation  also  occurred  in 
more  traditional  sectors.  Hull  had  long  functioned  as  a market  centre  for  imported  and 
locally  produced  groceries.  Butter  and  meat  products  were  shipped  to  London  in  large 
quantities,  but  significant  amounts  of  these  items  were  retained  in  the  town  for  local  sale. 
This  circumstance  helps  explain  why  fish  dealers  were  outnumbered  by  butchers  in  Hull. 
The  market  for  meat  was  so  extensive  that  it  supported  the  construction  of  two  architecturally 
elaborate  shambles  between  1771  and  1807.  By  the  third  quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century, 
grocers  were  operating  increasingly  diversified  businesses.  Their  stock  lists  might  include 
items  such  as  gunpowder,  shot,  and  cleaning  materials. 

Bennett’s  survey  of  trading  conditions  in  Hull  includes  discussion  of  the  influence  of 
economic  fluctuations  on  the  fortunes  of  the  town’s  traders.  A short  but  valuable  survey  of 
bankruptcy  compares  trends  in  Hull  with  the  rest  of  the  country.  The  book  also  presents 
some  useful  series  of  food  prices,  derived  from  the  Burton  Constable  household  accounts, 
which  indicate  that  the  cost  of  living  increased  markedly  during  the  period  under  examination. 
Rounding  off  this  beautifully  produced  volume  are  biographical  profiles  of  two  prominent 
and  wealthy  businessmen:  William  Rust  (watchmaker  and  silversmith)  and  Thomas  Scatcherd 
(grocer  and  tea-dealer). 

University  of  York 

S.D.  Smith 



LAW  COMMISSION,  OCTOBER  1834  TO  JANUARY  1839.  Edited  by  Paul  Carter.  23  x 
15  cm.  Pp.  xlviii  + 226.  7 b/w  illustrations,  6 line  illustrations.  YAS  Record  Series  vol.  CLVII 
for  2003.  Woodbridge:  The  Boydell  Press,  2004.  Price:  Hardback  £40  ($80). 
ISBN  0902122959. 

The  New  Poor  Law  (Poor  Law  Amendment  Act)  of  1834  established  a new  model  of 
government.  Parishes  which  had,  since  1601,  been  responsible  for  poor  relief  were  merged 
into  unions  of  parishes  controlled  by  ratepayer  elected  boards  of  guardians.  A central 
authority  - the  Poor  Law  Commission,  later  (1847)  the  Poor  Law  Board,  then  (1871)  the 
Local  Government  Board,  and  finally  (1918-1929)  the  Ministry  of  Health- was  established  in 
Whitehall.  Its  task  was  to  introduce  uniformity  of  poor  relief  practice,  particularly  the 
restriction  of  outdoor  relief,  throughout  England  and  Wales,  using  Assistant  Commissioners 
(later  Inspectors)  to  set  up  unions,  visit  them  and  advise  upon  best  practice. 

Correspondence  between  the  central  and  the  local  authorities  was,  and  is,  crucial  to  an 
understanding  of  how  this  system  functioned.  It  led  to  the  growth  of  massive  files  of 
correspondence  between  centre  and  locality,  all  of  it  preserved  in  chronological  order  and 
listed  alphabetically  by  union  in  Series  MH  1 2/  at  the  Public  Record  Office  - now  called,  for 
some  obscure  reason,  the  National  Archives,  at  Kew.  Paul  Carter,  from  the  National  Archives, 
has  accurately  reproduced  in  this  volume  the  contents  of  just  one  file,  MH12/14720,  which 
contains  the  correspondence  between  the  new  Poor  Law  Commission,  the  Bradford 
(Yorkshire)  Board  of  Guardians  and  others  in  the  town  and  its  vicinity  with  concerns  about 
the  administration  of  the  new  legislation.  The  period  covered  by  the  file,  October  1834  to 
January  1839,  was  a key  one  in  the  history  of  the  New  Poor  Law,  as  the  West  Riding  was  the 
epicentre  of  a furious  resistance  to  its  implementation.  This  erupted  in  Bradford  when  an 
unfortunate  Assistant  Commissioner,  Alfred  Power,  came  to  establish  the  new  union  in 

Opposition  came  from  two  directions.  Tories  like  Richard  Oastler,  the  factory  reformer, 
and  the  Reverend  G.  S.  Bull,  an  Anglican  parson  from  Bierley,  a parish  in  the  proposed 
Bradford  Union,  furiously  attacked  the  new  system  which  they  saw  as  oppressing  the  poor 
and  interfering  with  the  traditional  methods  of  parochial  poor  relief.  Many  parish  officers 
shared  their  dislike  of  the  new  system,  feeling  that  there  was  no  necessity  for  it  in  the 
industrial  areas  of  northern  England,  where  relief  had  been  efficiently  organised  in  contrast 
to  the  “Speenhamland”  counties  of  the  south  and  east.  At  the  other  end  of  the  political 
spectrum  were  working  class  leaders  such  as  Bradford’s  Peter  Bussey,  using  their  influence 
in  the  town’s  radical  movement  to  arouse  popular  opposition  to  the  New  Poor  Law  with 
speeches,  leaflets  and  demonstrations.  This  culminated  in  a riot  in  November  1837  when 
the  new  Board  of  Guardians  attempted  to  meet.  Alfred  Power  and  his  servant  were  assaulted 
and  a troop  of  cavalry  had  to  be  summoned  to  restore  order.  Accounts  of  these  dramatic 
events,  as  witnessed  by  a number  of  correspondents  including  Alfred  Power  and  the  clerk  to 
the  Bradford  Union,  John  Reid  Wagstaff,  occupy  a large  section  of  this  collection  and  make 
fascinating  reading,  especially  for  anyone  interested  in  the  state  of  law  and  order  in  the  early- 
Victorian  town.  Other  letters  cover  the  election  of  the  new  board  of  guardians,  and  queries 
about  the  relationship  between  the  old  system  of  overseers  and  churchwardens  and  the  new 
board  of  guardians.  These  illuminate  the  intricate  minutiae  of  early  nineteenth  centuiy  local 



government  in  a way  which  no  secondary  source  can  adequately  convey. 

Paul  Carter  prefaces  the  documentary  material  with  an  excellent  48  page  Introduction, 
setting  it  in  the  context  of  the  development  of  English  poor  relief  since  1601,  and  of  the  social 
and  economic  growth  of  early  nineteenth  century  Bradford.  The  reader  comes  well  prepared 
to  the  complexity  of  the  documentary  material.  Local  historians  will  find  much  of  interest 
here,  whilst  even  a single  volume  of  MHI2/  during  this  disturbed  period  should  provide  the 
basis  of  an  A-Level  topic  or  even  an  undergraduate  dissertation.  Those  wishing  to  delve 
further  into  the  English  poor  law  will  find  it  a useful  introduction  to  the  MH 1 2/  series  before 
having  to  journey  to  Kew  and  dig  out  the  relevant  volumes.  As  the  editor  points  out,  there  is 
no  useable  index.  The  researcher  has  to  work  through  many  volumes  to  discover  nuggets  of 
historical  gold  like  those  displayed  in  this  volume.  The  early  volumes,  in  my  experience, 
tend  to  contain  the  most  interesting  material.  As  one  burrows  on,  the  volumes  become 
heavier  (and  dustier)  but  contain  a great  many  rather  repetitive,  official  forms  and  returns. 
Bureaucracy’s  dead  hand  becomes  ever  more  apparent. 

This  is  a very  well  produced  book  which  will  generate  interest  in  poor  law  studies,  an  area 
which  few  local  historians  can  avoid  encountering  at  some  point  in  their  work.  It  may 
encourage  some  to  delve  into  the  massive  MHI2/series.  Those  who  do  should  go  wearing 
suitable  clothing.  A cloud  of  dust  will  rise  from  each,  hitherto  unopened,  box. 

University  of  Manchester  Michael  E.  Rose 

All  communications  about  the  editorial  side  of  the  Journal  should  be  addressed  to  either,  the  Hon.  Archaeology  Editor, 
Jill  Wilson,  331  Havant  Road,  Farlington,  Portsmouth,  P06  1DD  (Tel.  02392-370649,  e-mail,  or  the  Hon.  History  Editor,  Edward  Royle,  77  Heworth  Green,  York,  Y031  7TL  (Tel. 
01904-423009,  e-mail  Contributions  should  be  prepared  in  accordance  with  the  Society’s 
Notes  for  Contributors.  A printed  copy  of  these  may  be  had  from  the  Editors,  who  will  be  happy  to  discuss  informally  any 
proposed  article  on  the  archaeology  or  history  of  the  historic  County  of  Yorkshire  at  any  period.  The  Notes  for  contributors 
are  also  available  on  the  Society’s  website. 

Enquires  about  the  Society’s  publications  should  be  addressed  to  the  Sales  Officer,  at  Claremont,  23  Clarendon 
Road,  Leeds,  LS2  9NZ,  from  whom  a List  of  Publications,  regularly  updated,  may  be  obtained.  Volumes  of  the 
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from  the  Society  website : http//www.yas. 




M.  R.  Stephens 



Pete  Wilson 


David  Bourne 


AND  WAKEFIELD  1991-2000 85 

La  wrence  Butler 


Archaeological  Investigations  at  Wakefield  Cathedral  1974  - 1995 
A.C.  Swann  and I.  Roberts  with  a contribution  by  D.  Tweddle 


Rita  Wood 



Claire  Cross 


YORK  CASTLE  GAOL,  1705  - 1745  139 

Philip  Woodfine 


OF  ELITE  WOMEN  IN  YORKSHIRE,  1720-1860 177 

Ruth  M.  Larsen 


Peter  Holmes 

POPULAR  POLITICS  IN  YORK,  c.1865-1880  217 

Matthew  Roberts 


La  wrence  Butler 



ISSN  0084-4276